Antonio Bastardo drawing interest from Mets, Orioles

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Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the Orioles and Mets are among the teams “involved in talks” with free agent reliever Antonio Bastardo.

It’s been several weeks since reports had Bastardo seeking a deal similar to fellow left-hander Tony Sipp‘s three-year, $18 million contract with the Astros. It’s unclear if teams are actually willing to approach those numbers in pursuing the 30-year-old, but he’s certainly one of the top remaining free agent pitchers and is coming off a good season with the Pirates.

Bastardo has a 3.58 ERA in 316 career innings, including a 2.98 ERA and 64/26 K/BB ratio in 57 innings last season. His control comes and goes, but his slider is fantastic and he misses tons of bats.

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.