Last week the Royals designated Kila Ka’aihue for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster, and today they traded the 27-year-old first baseman to the A’s for minor-league pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth.
Ka’aihue’s track record in the minors is good enough and lengthy enough that he deserved a longer opportunity in the majors, but he flopped in a few brief stints with the Royals and career minor leaguers without any defensive skills tend to get fewer chances than their raw numbers warrant.
Oakland hasn’t pursued as many no-glove, good-hit minor leaguers in recent years, but back in the “Moneyball” days Ka’aihue was exactly the type of player Billy Beane and the A’s often took chances on. He’s hit .281 with a .412 on-base percentage and .497 slugging percentage in 353 career games at Triple-A.
Hollingsworth split this season between Double-A and Triple-A, throwing 105 innings with a 3.76 ERA and 73/27 K/BB ratio as a 24-year-old starter. He was the Rockies’ fourth-round draft pick in 2008 and came to the A’s in a deal for Clayton Mortensen last winter.
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.