From the Pirates’ official Twitter account comes word that the team has asked for release waivers on right-hander Rick VandenHurk for “the purpose of allowing him to sign with a foreign club.” We would guess that it’s a team from either Korea or Japan.
VandenHurk posted a promising 2.92 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 19 starts and two relief appearances last season at Triple-A Indianapolis, fanning 113 batters and issuing only 35 walks in 123 1/3 innings. But the Pirates weren’t going to give him much of a chance this season and he probably got a decent offer — maybe close to $1 million — overseas.
The 27-year-old Netherlands native was signed by the Marlins as an amateur free agent in 2002. He’s made 50 major league appearances (35 starts, 15 in relief) to the tune of a 6.08 career ERA and 1.63 career WHIP.
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.