Orioles will tender contract to closer Jim Johnson

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Orioles closer Jim Johnson is on track to receive another hefty raise in arbitration this winter, but he’s not going anywhere. Orioles executive vice president Jim Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com yesterday that the team fully intends to tender him a contract for 2014.

“Jim Johnson is one of our core players,” said Duquette, who has emphasized keeping that core intact for the organization to sustain success. “Jimmy has done something historic in terms of the numbers of games he’s saved over the last couple years, so he’s established significant value. He came into the job last year, I think he had nine saves in his career, and over the last two years, he has over 100, 99.”

Johnson has struggled at various points this season, resulting in a major-league leading nine blown saves, but he has a 2.90 ERA over 72 appearances and leads the American League with 48 saves. The 30-year-old has 99 saves over the past two seasons, which is more than anyone.

Johnson earned $6.5 million this season and his salary could jump to the $9 million range via the arbitration process this winter. He will be a free agent after the 2014 season.

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.