Cardinals have interest in shortstop Erick Aybar

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CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler shares this scoop:

After talking to the White Sox about Alexei Ramirez and checking in with the Phillies on Jimmy Rollins, the Cardinals have now been in touch with the Angels about Erick Aybar, according to sources.

Anaheim surely wants young pitching prospects in return and that’s something the Cardinals possess.

Aybar, 29, is batting .280/.309/.384 with four home runs, five stolen bases and 37 RBI in 82 games this season for the 48-56 Halos. Pete Kozma, 25, is hitting .241/.286/.304 in 96 games for the 62-41 Cards.

Aybar is making a $8.5 million salary this year and owed a total of $25.5 million from 2014 to 2016.

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UPDATE, 8:41 p.m. ET: Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says the Angels want one of the Cardinals’ top two pitching prospects — Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha — along with Kozma in return for Aybar. The Cardinals are “reluctant” to do the trade at that lofty price, according to Bowden’s source.

UPDATE, 8:56 p.m. ET: Bowden reports that the Cardinals have made it clear to the Angels that they will not trade Martinez or Wacha for Aybar. The asking price will have to come down for this one to work.

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.