After making some big splashes in the free agent market this winter, the Indians are now trying to lock up two of their promising young players.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Indians have discussed contract extensions with outfielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis. The aim is to buy out each player’s arbitration seasons and multiple years of free agency.
Brantley will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter while Kipnis is coming off his first full season in the majors and won’t qualify for the first time until after 2014. Rosenthal notes that the Indians began negotiations with Brantley before they signed Michael Bourn to a four-year, $48 million contract, so the dynamic may have changed over the past month. He’s being moved over to left field to accommodate Bourn, but there’s little doubt that he offers more bang for his buck as an everyday center fielder.
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.