Tim Tebow Gets Major League Spring Training Invite from Mets

The next step in Tim Tebow's baseball journey came on Friday when it was announced he received an invite to Major League camp with the New York Mets for spring training. 

Per the Mets' official Twitter account, Tebow was one of nine players invited to MLB camp. 

Tebow signed a minor league contract with the Mets in September 2016, but he didn't receive an invite to MLB camp last year despite the wishes of then-manager Terry Collins.

"I will tell you if he’s not in our camp, I’ll get him over," Collins told reporters at the 2016 winter meetings. "I think he’s a name in Florida. He’s a star in Florida. He should be. I think it would be fun to have Tim come over. And certainly one thing about our players, they’re athletes, too. They’re fans, too. They would probably like to know how to run a quarterback sneak one day."

In his first full minor league season last year, Tebow hit .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs in 126 games between Low-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie. 

By receiving an invite to major league camp, Tebow can compete for a spot on either the Mets' 25-man Opening Day roster or 40-man roster so he could be added to the MLB team due to injury or poor performance at any point in the season. 

Position players are scheduled to report to spring training by Feb. 17 before the Mets have their first full-squad workout two days later. 

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MLBPA Reportedly Will Reject Pitch Clock, Pace of Play Rules

As Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred pursues ways to improve the pace of play, the MLB Players Association reportedly is prepared to reject the latest proposal.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the union is expected to reject the introduction of a pitch clock and other revised pace-of-play rules brought forth by Manfred. 

Rosenthal also noted Manfred would be allowed to go around the union to implement his previous plan that included a 20-second pitch clock and fewer visits to the pitcher's mound.

      

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Red Sox Rumors: J.D. Martinez Offer from Boston Reportedly 5 Years, $100M

The Boston Red Sox have reportedly made free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez a substantial contract offer. 

Per ESPN's Buster Olney, the Red Sox's current proposal to Martinez is in the range of $100 million over five years.

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Christian Yelich’s Relationship with Marlins ‘Irretrievably Broken,’ Says Agent

Outfielder Christian Yelich no longer wants to be part of the Miami Marlins organization, according to his agent. 

Per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, agent Joe Longo described Yelich's relationship with the Marlins as "irretrievably broken" and said the 26-year-old should be traded before spring training begins:

"The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It's soured. He's part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he's got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.

"He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He's had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don't see how it's going to work."

   

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Christian Yelich’s Relationship with Marlins ‘Irretrievably Broken,’ Says Agent

Outfielder Christian Yelich no longer wants to be part of the Miami Marlins organization, according to his agent. 

Per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, agent Joe Longo described Yelich's relationship with the Marlins as "irretrievably broken" and said the 26-year-old should be traded before spring training begins:

"The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It's soured. He's part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he's got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.

"He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He's had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don't see how it's going to work."

   

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Josh Harrison Trade Rumors: Pirates IF Wants Move After Andrew McCutchen Deal

Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Josh Harrison would like to be traded if the team is going to go through a rebuilding process.

In a statement issued to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Harrison cited comments made by Pirates general manager Neal Huntington as his rationale for wanting to be dealt:

"My passion for Pittsburgh, what it has MEANT to me, what it MEANS to me, can never be questioned. I love this city, I love the fans, I love my teammates. Saying that, the GM is on record as saying, 'When we get back to postseason-caliber baseball, we would love our fans to come back out.' If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded. I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer."

Harrison's comments come after the Pirates traded starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros on Saturday and sent outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants on Monday. 

Harrison has one guaranteed year remaining on the four-year deal he signed in 2015, though it also includes two team options worth a combined $22 million, per Spotrac.

After making three straight playoff appearances from 2013 to 2015, the Pirates have gone 153-170 over the past two seasons. McCutchen was entering the final season of his contract in 2018, and Cole had two more years of team control.

Harrison hit a career-high 16 home runs in 2017 despite missing 34 games, the final 26 of the season due to a broken hand. The 30-year-old has played every position except catcher, first base and center field in his seven-year MLB career.

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Adrian Gonzalez, Mets Reportedly in ‘Serious’ Contract Discussions

The New York Mets could give Adrian Gonzalez an opportunity to continue his Major League Baseball career.

Per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Mets and Gonzalez are in "serious discussions" about a contract for 2018.

Gonzalez's string of 11 consecutive seasons with at least 150 games played came to an end last year. Back injuries limited him to a .242/.287/.355 slash line in 71 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers traded Gonzalez as part of a five-player deal to the Atlanta Braves in December. He was released two days after the deal, making him a free agent for the first time in his 14-year career.

Dominic Smith, a first-round pick in 2013, has the potential to be New York's first baseman of the future. The 22-year-old did struggle in his first taste against MLB pitching last season with a .198/.262/.395 slash line in 49 games.

Gonzalez could potentially serve as insurance at first base for the Mets if they want to get Smith more Triple-A seasoning. He's no longer an All-Star at the peak of his career, but there's potential for a solid buy-low investment if his back problems are behind him.

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Gerrit Cole Reportedly Traded to Astros for Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove, More

The Pittsburgh Pirates have finally decided to move on from Gerrit Cole after trading the right-handed pitcher to the Houston Astros on Saturday.         

Per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the Pirates will receive infielder Colin Moran and right-hander Joe Musgrove from the Astros for Cole, with the expectation they will receive more in return as well. 

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirmed the Astros have acquired Cole. 

Cole has been the subject of rampant trade rumors and speculation throughout the offseason. MLB.com's Jon Morosi even reported Wednesday the Pirates and Astros had agreed on a deal, though that turned out not to be the case at that time. 

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow even addressed the speculation.

"We do not have a deal," Luhnow told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "We are working on multiple things, but nothing is imminent."

The Pirates were entering a dangerous position in 2018 and had to make a choice of either trying to go all-in to win with their current core of talent or take a long-term outlook on things.

Andrew McCutchen is scheduled to become a free agent after next season. Cole, Ivan Nova, David Freese and Francisco Cervelli are under team control through 2019.

After going 75-87 in 2017, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington made the call to deal Cole in an effort to bring in a strong package of talent for his team as it looks to avoid a significant drop-off when all those deals expire. 

Cole has been inconsistent throughout his MLB career. The 27-year-old has a 3.50 ERA with 749 hits allowed and 734 strikeouts in 782.1 innings in five seasons. 

Despite making a career-high 33 starts in 2017, Cole posted his worst ERA (4.26), worst home run rate (1.4 per nine innings) and second-most hits allowed per nine innings (8.8). 

Even with those lackluster stats last season, Cole is the kind of pitcher the Astros can afford to take a chance on.

He's under team control for two years, adds depth to a starting rotation that features Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander and didn't cause the Astros to empty their loaded farm system to make the deal happen. 

Musgrove did appear in 38 games for the Astros last season, posting a 4.77 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 109.1 innings. 

A first-round pick by the Miami Marlins in 2013, Moran was traded to the Astros the following year. He ended last season ranked as Houston's No. 5 prospect, per MLB.com

The Astros won the World Series last year at least in part because Luhnow was able to strike a surprise deal with the Detroit Tigers for Verlander on Aug. 31. 

That first taste of success has given Luhnow the ability to make more moves as he looks to establish the talent-rich Astros as a potential dynasty in the American League

Cole gets a chance to play for one of the best teams in MLB with a legitimate chance to a win another championship in 2018. His focus will be on proving himself as a dominant starter, as he's shown at times in the past, to ensure the Astros' investment in him is a win for both parties. 

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Manny Machado Agrees to $16M Contract with Orioles to Avoid Arbitration

Even with trade rumors continuing to swirl around Manny Machado, the Baltimore Orioles were able to avoid arbitration with their All-Star third baseman on Friday. 

Per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Machado and the Orioles agreed to terms on a $16 million deal for 2018 that also includes awards incentives.  

        

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Miguel Sano’s Sexual Misconduct Allegations Under MLB Investigation

Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano.  

Per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, an MLB spokesman said its review of Sano began "immediately upon learning of the allegations."

Twins general manager Thad Levine told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursday the team is hoping for a timely resolution to the investigation. 

"Right now Major League Baseball is conducting their investigation," Levine said, via Berardino. "We've been asked to kind of stand down and allow that process to unfold. We're hopeful we'll have information back in a timely fashion."

      

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Starlin Castro Trade Rumors: Ex-Yankees SS Doesn’t Want to Be in Marlins Rebuild

Starlin Castro has yet to play a game for the Miami Marlins, but the four-time All-Star reportedly knows he doesn't want to be on the team when the 2018 season begins. 

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Castro wants to be traded to avoid being "part of another rebuilding process the way he was with the Cubs."

Castro was dealt to the Marlins as part of the deal that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees last month. 

The Marlins have been one of the most active teams this offseason. Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna have all been traded as part of a front-office initiative to cut payroll. 

In addition to Castro's desire to be traded, MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported on Dec. 28 the Marlins have also had discussions with teams about dealing outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto. 

Castro is signed for a total of $21 million through the 2019 season with a team option for $16 million in 2020, per Spotrac

The 27-year-old Castro spent the previous two seasons with the Yankees. He posted a career-high .792 OPS in 112 games during the 2017 season. 

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Kazuhisa Makita, Padres Reportedly Agree to 2-Year, $4 Million Contract

The San Diego Padres and Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Makita have reportedly agreed to a two-year contract. 

Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Makita's deal with the Padres will pay him around $4 million total. 

Makita has pitched for Seibu Lions in the Pacific League since 2011. The 33-year-old has been used exclusively as a reliever over the past two seasons after alternating between the starting rotation and bullpen from 2011-15. 

Per MLB.com's Joe Trezza, Makita's success stems from a deceptive submarine delivery, with a fastball that will touch 85 mph, a curveball and a slider in his repertoire. 

Makita has been terrific throughout his career at keeping the ball in the park. He has only allowed 46 home runs in 921.1 innings with a 2.83 career ERA. 

In 62.2 innings last season, the right-hander had a 2.30 ERA with 59 hits allowed, 35 strikeouts and five walks. 

The Padres will use Makita as depth in a bullpen that already includes All-Star closer Brad Hand and Kirby Yates. 

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Jenrry Mejia, Mets Agree to Contract to Avoid Arbitration Despite PED Suspension

The New York Mets and suspended relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia avoided arbitration by agreeing to a contract for the 2018 season. 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Mejia and the Mets settled for $1.729 million, but the right-handed pitcher is unlikely to collect his salary since he's been banned by Major League Baseball for failing three performance-enhancing drug tests. 

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Nationals Trade Rumors: Washington Interested in Chrsitian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto

Add the Washington Nationals to the list of teams reportedly interested in acquiring outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins

Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, the Nationals are interested in either player individually or as a potential package deal.

Frisaro did note no deal between the Nationals and Marlins is imminent, and that Yelich and Realmuto are being courted by more than a dozen teams.

The Marlins have already traded Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners, Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees and Marcell Ozuna this offseason in an effort to bring their payroll down to the $90 million range in 2018.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported Wednesday that the Atlanta Braves had also made an inquiry into the availability of Realmuto and Yelich.

Craig Mish of SiriusXM reported on Dec. 18 that Realmuto requested a trade from the Marlins. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that same day Yelich was “unhappy” with the moves made by Miami’s front office, but wanted to let them explain their plan before making a decision about his future.

Yelich is under contract for four more seasons with a team option for 2022. Realmuto is under team control through the 2021 season.

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Braves Trade Rumors: J.T. Realmuto, Christian Yelich Drawing Atlanta Interest

If the Miami Marlins decide they want to trade more players from their big league roster, the Atlanta Braves will go after two of their most valuable assets. 

Per MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Braves have had contact with the Marlins to ask about outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto. 

Morosi noted talks between the Braves and Marlins "have yet to advance," but Atlanta has a deep pool of prospects to deal from. 

Both players have expressed their unhappiness with deals made by the Marlins front office that sent Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners, Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees and Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported Yelich was going to meet with the front office to let them explain the Marlins' rebuilding plan. Per SiriusXM's Craig Mish, Realmuto requested a trade from the team.

Realmuto hit a career-high 17 home runs last season and has a .280/.322/.428 slash line in 415 games with the Marlins. He's under team control for three more seasons. Yelich, who is under contract through 2021 with 2022 club option, has hit .290/.369/.432 in five MLB seasons. 

The Braves will likely have tremendous financial flexibility after next season with only $38.2 million in guaranteed salary commitments in 2019, per Cot's Baseball Contracts

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Willie McCovey Says Joe Morgan’s Letter to HOF Voters Was Shot at Barry Bonds

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey believes a letter sent by Joe Morgan to Hall of Fame voters last month was specifically about Barry Bonds.

Speaking to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle about Bonds' Hall of Fame case, McCovey cited Morgan's letter as one reason the seven-time National League MVP will struggle to get into Cooperstown.

"That letter Morgan wrote sure is not going to help Barry," McCovey said. "But I'm glad to hear a lot of the writers say the letter is not going to influence their vote because I know a lot of it is aimed at him. I wasn't too happy about it."

McCovey added that it's "naive" to think the letter Morgan circulated to the Baseball Writers' Association of America wasn't aimed at Bonds.

Morgan wrote that "steroid users don't belong" in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He didn't mention any players by name but instead lumped everyone who failed a performance-enhancing drugs test or is believed to have failed one together.

"Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball's investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in," he wrote. "Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right."

Bonds has slowly been gaining momentum to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame within the 10-year eligibility window. He was named on 36.2 percent of ballots in 2013, his first year on the ballot, but jumped more than 8 percentage points to 44.3 last year.

Bonds holds MLB records with 762 home runs and 2,558 walks.

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Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Red Sox Continue to Show Interest in Orioles Star

With the Baltimore Orioles still deciding what to do with Manny Machado, the Boston Red Sox remain a potential destination in the All-Star third baseman. 

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the Red Sox continue to show trade interest in Machado. 

Morosi added there's some skepticism the Orioles would trade Machado to a division rival, but pointed out Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette and Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski once worked together with the Montreal Expos.  

After the Orioles initially put Machado on the trade block three weeks ago, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported on Dec. 20 they intended to pull him back because they weren't happy with the offers they were receiving. 

USA Today's Bob Nightengale added several teams that were negotiating with the Orioles believed Machado was likely staying put until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. 

Per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, as of Dec. 23, Boston's offer hasn't "moved the needle" for the Orioles, and the "most substantive" talks for Machado have been with the Chicago Cubs

The Red Sox need to make offensive upgrades in 2018 after finishing 26th in slugging percentage and 27th in home runs last season. It's unclear how Machado would fit in with Boston's lineup since Rafael Devers is penciled in at third base and Xander Bogaerts is at shortstop. 

Machado, who can be a free agent after next season, hit .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs in 2017. 

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Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Red Sox Continue to Show Interest in Orioles Star

With the Baltimore Orioles still deciding what to do with Manny Machado, the Boston Red Sox remain a potential destination in the All-Star third baseman. 

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the Red Sox continue to show trade interest in Machado. 

Morosi added there's some skepticism the Orioles would trade Machado to a division rival, but pointed out Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette and Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski once worked together with the Montreal Expos.  

After the Orioles initially put Machado on the trade block three weeks ago, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported on Dec. 20 they intended to pull him back because they weren't happy with the offers they were receiving. 

USA Today's Bob Nightengale added several teams that were negotiating with the Orioles believed Machado was likely staying put until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. 

Per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, as of Dec. 23, Boston's offer hasn't "moved the needle" for the Orioles, and the "most substantive" talks for Machado have been with the Chicago Cubs

The Red Sox need to make offensive upgrades in 2018 after finishing 26th in slugging percentage and 27th in home runs last season. It's unclear how Machado would fit in with Boston's lineup since Rafael Devers is penciled in at third base and Xander Bogaerts is at shortstop. 

Machado, who can be a free agent after next season, hit .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs in 2017. 

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Tyson Ross, Padres Reportedly Agree to Minor League Contract

Right-handed pitcher Tyson Ross will try to rejuvenate his career by returning to the San Diego Padres in 2018 after the two sides agreed to a deal. 

Per SB Nation's Chris Cotillo, Ross signed a minor league deal with the Padres.   

Ross has fallen on hard times since the start of 2016. The 30-year-old made just one start for the Padres in that season after suffering a shoulder injury. 

San Diego decided to non-tender Ross last offseason, making him a free agent, and the Rangers took a chance on him. 

Things didn't work out for Ross in 2017. The right-hander spent time on the 60-day disabled list before returning to Texas' rotation on June 16. He posted a 7.71 ERA with more walks (37) than strikeouts (36) in 49 innings.

At his peak from 2013-15, Ross evolved as a starter. He wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher in Oakland (102 in 148.2 innings), but he averaged 9.2 punchouts per nine innings in four seasons with the Padres. 

Ross has been effectively wild at his best, as he walked 116 hitters in 320.2 innings in 2013-14. He was more erratic in 2015 with a league-leading 84 free passes.  

One reason for Ross' past success, particularly in 2015, was his ability to limit hard contact, per Daren Willman of BaseballSavant.com:

Since Ross is still in the process of working his way back to form, the Padres are hoping he figures things out as he looks to turn his once-promising career around. 

The Padres need depth in their starting rotation after finishing 23rd in MLB with a 4.83 ERA last season. Ross is a low-cost, high-reward investment for the team that knows him better than anyone else. 

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Photographer Accuses Miguel Sano of Sexual Misconduct After Autograph Signing

Betsy Bissen, a photographer for Twins Daily, has accused Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano of sexual misconduct after an autograph signing. 

Bissen wrote a detailed account of her encounter involving Sano on Twitter:

The 24-year-old Sano could be subject to a suspension under MLB's domestic violence policy. 

Per the policy the league implemented in 2015, the commissioner's office "will investigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse involving members of the baseball community." 

The commissioner also has the authority to place a player accused of abuse or assault on paid administrative leave for up to seven days during the investigation. 

Sano has been with the Twins since 2009, when he signed as an international free agent. He made his MLB debut in 2015 and was named an All-Star for the first time in 2017.

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