Report: The Rockies have checked in with the Rays about Jeff Niemann

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UPDATE: According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Dodgers have called the Rockies, among other teams, to gauge their interest in left-hander Chris Capuano.

12:10 PM: After finishing last in the majors in 2012 with a 5.22 ERA, the Rockies are asking around about potential upgrades for their starting rotation.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Rockies have checked in with the Rays about the availability of right-hander Jeff Niemann, among others. However, it doesn’t appear as though anything is imminent, as Olney notes that talks haven’t advanced.

Niemann made just eight starts with the Rays last season due to a fractured fibula and shoulder inflammation, but owns a 4.08 ERA over five seasons in the majors. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is owed $3 million this season and is under team control through 2014. If the Rays were to move him, it could open up a spot for Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi in the starting 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.