Back in February, when Jose Valverde was still looking for work, a report that he was close to signing with the Marlins was almost immediately shot down and called “a typical ploy by Scott Boras.”
I bring this up because yesterday, when Valverde spoke to the Detroit media upon rejoining the Tigers, he told reporters that the Yankees and Mets were among several teams that had made him major-league contract offers that he turned down.
That seemed odd, because until two weeks ago Valverde was unemployed. And sure enough when asked about Valverde’s claim Yankees general manager Brian Cashman emphatically denied offering him a major-league deal or a minor-league deal. In fact, Cashman said “false, false, false” and explained that the Yankees never even had negotiations with Valverde. But wait, what about the Mets? Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that they didn’t make Valverde an offer either.
Who knows if Valverde was fibbing or if he was simply working off less than accurate information relayed to him by his agent, but either way … he wasn’t turning down big-league offers this offseason.
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.