Report: Red Sox aggressively pursuing Ryan Dempster

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A source told ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Red Sox are aggressively pursuing the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster in a bid to shore up their rotation.

The Red Sox have already worked out one deal this year with their former employees in Chicago (team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer), but the Marlon Byrd trade was small potatoes compared to a potential Dempster deal.

Dempster, a free agent at season’s end, is currently working on a 33-inning scoreless streak and is 5-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 92 innings for the season. The Cubs are thought to want young pitching and perhaps a third-base prospect in return for him.

The Red Sox have maybe the game’s best third-base prospect in 19-year-old Xander Bogaerts. He’s currently a shortstop, but he is outgrowing the position and most project him to shift to third or the outfield. It’s doubtful they’d part with him for a rental, though. They do have 21-year-old Garin Cecchini they can make available. He’s hitting .309/.389/.441 in low-A ball.

Young pitchers the Red Sox could deal include right-handers Anthony Ranaudo, Stolmy Pimentel and Alex Wilson and left-handers Henry Owens and Drake Britton.

A less likely possibility is that they could send left-hander Felix Doubront to Chicago. Doubront has nine wins for Boston this year, but he’s struggled some lately. With Matt Garza and Paul Maholm also potentially on the block, the Cubs would certainly appreciate some young pitching capable of stepping right into the rotation.

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.