Rays designate Pat Burrell for assignment; promote Hank Blalock

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Pat Burrell headshot.jpgThe Rays have designated designated hitter Pat Burrell for assignment in order to make room for Hank Blalock, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Burrell, 33, has been a tremendous failure since signing a two-year, $16 million contract with the club in January of 2009, posting a pathetic .218/.311/.361 batting line and just 16 homers over 572 plate appearances. He was batting 202/.292/.333 with two homers and 13 RBI over his first 84 at-bats this season.

The Rays did their best to trade Burrell during the offseason, including protracted talks with the Cubs involving Milton Bradley, however a trade never materialized. Now they’ll pay him $9 million this season just to go away.

Blalock, 29, was batting .349/.405/.505 with four home runs and 24 RBI with Triple-A Durham. Earlier this week, his agent Scott Boras told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that his client planned to use an opt-clause in his contract if he wasn’t promoted to the major league roster. Now that Burrell is out of the way, Blalock figures to be the primary designated hitter and backup first baseman for the struggling Carlos Pena.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.