Milwaukee placed the high bid for exclusive negotiating rights to Norichika Aoki and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers plan to work out the Japanese center fielder before deciding what type of contract to offer him.
Evaluating a player in person, on your terms, seems like an obvious thing for teams to do before investing millions in someone, but in the past that typically hasn’t been the case with Japanese imports.
For instance, last offseason the Twins bid $5 million for Tsuyoshi Nishioka and then signed him to a three-year, $9 million deal, only to realize almost immediately once he arrived at spring training that he didn’t have the arm to play shortstop well and didn’t know how to properly turn double plays as a second baseman.
If the Brewers aren’t impressed by Aoki’s workout and end up not signing him during the 30-day negotiating window their $2.5 million bid would be refunded. He lacks power, but the speedy 30-year-old is a career .329 hitter and three-time batting champion in Japan.
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.