First baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever Sean Burnett are officially free agents after both players declined their half of mutual options with the Nationals.
LaRoche turned down $10 million and Burnett turned down $3.5 million after the team previously exercised its half of both options.
LaRoche will have no trouble securing a multi-year deal on the open market and may end up re-signing with the Nationals for significantly more than $10 million, so it was an easy call for him.
Burnett seems like less of a sure thing to snag a big multi-year deal considering he dealt with elbow problems in the second half and underwent surgery to remove a bone spur after the season. On the other hand Burnett is a 30-year-old lefty with a 2.81 ERA in 202 innings since joining the Nationals, so he won’t struggle to find work and probably started drooling along with every other reliever when he saw Brandon League’s contract with the Dodgers.
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.