Andrew Church was among the minor leaguers the Mets released on Thursday.
Not long after receiving the news, the 25-year-old right-handed starter tore into his now former organization.
The 2013 second round pick blasted the Mets on Instagram for signing “a celebrity” — almost certainly Tim Tebow — and blamed the organization for forcing Church to make an appearance in a Triple-A game with no warm-up pitches after being flown in from Single-A as an emergency fill-in.
“The Mets made a mockery of our team by putting a celebrity on it to sell more tickets,’’ Church wrote, an apparent reference to the 2016 signing of Tebow. “I saw players lose their jobs because of it. We weren’t playing to win, we were playing to make everyone else money. Not the players. We never saw a cut. Well, allegedly one player did.”
Tebow and Church were teammates with Class-A St. Lucie for much of 2017, just about when Church’s career stalled.
At the time of the signing, Sandy Alderson — then Mets GM — denied there was anything more to Tebow’s signing other than his baseball ability.
“This decision was strictly driven by baseball,’’ Alderson said in 2016. “This was not something driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort.”
Alderson, now a senior advisor with the A’s, l ater admitted Tebow’s celebrity as a former Heisman-winning quarterback played a role in the move.
Tebow showed signs of progress on the field during his first two seasons with the organization, but had an ugly year at Triple-A Syracuse in 2019, when he hit just .163 with 98 strikeouts in 264 plate appearances.
He was also allowed to pursue a broadcasting career.
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The notion that any player with a shot at the majors had their careers significantly altered because of Tebow’s presence doesn’t hold up, but Church’s claim that he was put in a game after flying across the country is more concerning.
Church retired briefly before returning last season and said his “competitive nature was taken advantage of.
“They knew I would never say no to competing and would fly me around to fill in for anyone who got injured,” Church wrote.
That’s an apparent reference to an Aug. 30, 2016 outing with Triple-A Las Vegas, when Church entered in the third inning and allowed three runs in four innings. Church said his UCL tore that night and instead of sending him to get checked out by doctors, he was sent back to Class-A St. Lucie to pitch in the playoffs, although he didn’t appear in a game.
Church retired in 2018 and said he returned to baseball last season when the Mets installed a new player development regime, but he criticized that staff, as well, after being used as an emergency starter at Triple-A Syracuse after another pitcher was injured, despite not having pitched in a competitive game in over a year.
He pitched poorly in that game and struggled with Double-A Binghamton the rest of the season.
“The culture that has been built for decades within that organization is toxic,” Church wrote. “Filled with snakes and bottom feeders trying to elevate their professional careers at the expense of the players, with no remorse.”
He added he’d stayed silent about his accusations out of loyalty to the organization. That ended with his release Thursday.
The Mets were among several teams that released minor leaguers Thursday, as there is almost no chance for a minor-league season and organizations are looking to cut costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.