Kenshin Kawakami is headed back to Japan

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Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along reports from Japan that Kenshin Kawakami has agreed to a deal with the Chunichi Dragons following a disappointing three-year stretch with the Braves.

Kawakami inked a $23 million contract with Atlanta in 2009 and had a solid rookie season for the Braves, tossing 156 innings with a 3.86 ERA and 105/57 K/BB ratio.

Then he began 2010 by going 1-10 with a 5.15 ERA and the Braves demoted him to the minors, never to be seen again. Kawakami didn’t pitch as terribly as those numbers would suggest, but he totally collapsed last season with an 8.41 ERA at Double-A.

Kakakami is 36 years old now, but he was a star in Japan before joining the Braves, going 112-72 with a 3.22 ERA in nine seasons while winning Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.

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.