Phil Coke opts for free agency

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Phil Coke’s brief stint with the Blue Jays is over, as Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that the veteran reliever declined an optional assignment to Triple-A Buffalo and has opted for free agency instead.

Coke began this season with the Cubs after making the team out of spring training, but he was cut loose about a month ago after posting a 6.30 ERA over 16 appearances. The southpaw signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays a few days later and made three appearances at the Triple-A level before joining the major league bullpen last weekend. He allowed one run over 2 2/3 innings in two appearances with the club.

Coke doesn’t turn 33 until July and has enjoyed success against left-handed batters in his career, so it shouldn’t be long before he finds a new opportunity.

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.