Cuban first basemen Jose Ruiz, who was released by the Rays in November as part of a unique contract stipulation, has signed a new deal with the Rangers.
Ruiz’s original agreement with the Rays was a minor-league deal that would become a four-year, $4 million contract if the Rays exercised that option by mid-November. They weren’t impressed with Ruiz while he hit .272 with one homer and a .709 OPS in 23 games at Double-A, so they declined the option and he became a free agent.
His new contract with the Rangers is simply a standard minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training, with assistant general manager Thad Levine telling T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he’ll “probably start at Double-A or Triple-A, so we can get around him and see what he can do.”
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.