UPDATE: Diamondbacks interested in Dontrelle Willis

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Thumbnail image for Dontrelle Willis Tigers.JPGUPDATE: The Diamondbacks have confirmed their interest in Willis, according to Gilbert.

“We are at least considering him,” D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes
said Monday.

8:55 PM: According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the Diamondbacks have had discussions with the Tigers about acquiring Dontrelle Willis.

Willis, 28, was designated for assignment by the Tigers on Sunday after posting a 4.98 ERA, 1.78 WHIP and a 33/29 K/BB ratio over his first nine appearances (eight starts) this season. The enigmatic left-hander was just 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA during his disappointing tenure in Detroit, averaging a disturbing 8.2 BB/9 over 101 innings.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Willis’ agent Matt Sosnick said that Arizona is one of the places his client “would rather play.” In fact, Willis and his wife were already in the process of buying a home in the Phoenix area. More broadly, Sosnick said “Out West in the National League would be his
choice.” He’s not the first pitcher to look out west for revitalization.

The Tigers have a little over a week to work something out, but whether they decide to release him, trade him or put him on waivers, they’ll be responsible for virtually all of his $12 million contract for this season.

As for the Diamondbacks, they have apparently seen enough of Billy Buckner that they feel it’s worth sending a marginal prospect the Tigers’ way to try to catch lightning in a bottle here. I don’t have much optimism that he can turn things around in the desert, but maybe his bat (eight career home runs) can keep them in a few games. 

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.