D’Backs eyeing free agent first baseman Paul Konerko

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The free agent market will be fairly thin this winter, but that doesn’t mean the rumors won’t be flying.

Paul Konerko, a free agent, posted a stellar .312/.393/.584 batting line in 2010 with 39 home runs and 111 RBI.  The on-base and slugging percentages were career highs.

The White Sox never engaged in talks toward an extension with Konerko during the season, which indicates that they are prepared to let him walk.  And there will be no shortage of teams looking for a solid power bat.  In fact, one club has already thrown its hat in the ring.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that the Diamondbacks have expressed interest in the free agent and have made signing him an “offseason priority.”

Konerko grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and still makes his home there.  Turning 35 in March, he might be attracted by the idea of settling down near his home.  And playing in the hitting-friendly confines of Chase Field should suit him well.

If the D’Backs do sign Konerko, it probably means that Adam LaRoche will not be brought back.  He has a $7.5 million mutual option for 2011 that comes with a $1.5 million buyout.

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.