According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mets are “scouring” the market for bullpen help. He mentions Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez and Matt Capps among those still available, but it’s unclear whether the Mets have any interest in those specific pitchers.
Frank Francisco had surgery earlier this month to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, but he’s expected to be ready for spring training. Still, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson could add an alternative for the ninth inning if the right opportunity arises. The Mets put most of their resources last offseason into upgrading their bullpen and they were worse in 2012 than they were in 2011, so they’ll likely look for last-minute bargains and hope for the best.
As of now, Francisco projects to open the season as the closer while Bobby Parnell will be the primary set-up man. The rest of the bullpen is a bit of a question mark, as they will likely be relying on youngsters like Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Robert Carson to take on more prominent roles. Greg Burke, who was signed to a minor league contract in November and has since been added to the 40-man roster, should also be in the mix.
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.