Rangers sign Jeff Baker to minor league contract

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Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers have signed utility infielder Jeff Baker to a minor league contract. The deal carries an invitation to spring training, where Baker will attempt to win a spot on the Texas bench.

Baker, 31, batted .239/.279/.378 with four homers and 25 RBI in 201 plate appearances last season between the Cubs, Tigers and Braves. He is a .266/.316/.428 career hitter in the major leagues.

Baker has played every infield position but shortstop over his eight-year MLB career and is also capable of serving as a fill-in at the corner outfield spots. He’ll be competing this spring with the likes of Leury Garcia, Yangervis Solarte and Brandon Snyder.

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.