The Braves got down to 25 players Monday, demoting pitchers Cory Gearrin and Julio Teheran to Triple-A as part of their cuts. Left as the 12th pitcher on the staff was Yohan Flande, who appeared all set to make his major league debut after spending six years in the minors.
Then came the bad news today: Atlanta signed Nationals castoff Chad Durbin to a major league contract. Flande is on his way back to Triple-A after all.
Flande, 26, entered camp as a big long shot to make the team, but he allowed just three runs — one earned — and eight hits in 12 1/3 innings for the spring. He had a 4.01 ERA in 19 starts and 14 relief appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett last year.
Durbin, 34, was cut by the Nats after allowing eight runs — four earned — and 21 hits in 15 1/3 innings this spring. He was a member of Cleveland’s pen last season and had a 5.53 ERA in 68 1/3 innings.
Their recent changes leaves the Braves pitching staff skewing quite a bit older than expected. Durbin and fellow new acquisition Livan Hernandez will both work in middle relief, giving the team veteran fallbacks in case Randall Delgado or any of their other starters struggle early on.
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.