SEE ALSO: Tebow Takes Shot At Pro Baseball
The Mets signed 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow on Thursday, about 10 days after the former NFL quarterback worked out for major league teams at Dedeaux Field on Southern California’s campus.
Although scouts were mixed on the former Gators football star’s baseball acumen, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the signing was “strictly driven by baseball.
“We were intrigued by the potential Tim has,” Alderson said in a conference call. “He’s a tremendous athlete, has great character. Aside from the age, this is a classic player development opportunity for us.”
Tebow signed a minor league deal as standard for a nondrafted free agent. Tebow will attend the Mets’ instructional league in St. Lucie, which will begin Sept. 18. He will miss a few days each week during instructional league to continue broadcasting for ESPN and the SEC Network.
Before the workout on Aug. 30—which was attended by more than three dozen scouts and Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino—Tebow had trained with former big league catcher Chad Moeller in workouts arranged by his agents at CAA, who also set up the showcase at USC. The agency also represents current Mets players such as righthanders Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as well as outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (as part of his deal with Roc Nation).
The former Florida star quarterback had not played competitive baseball since his junior year at Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla. The 29-year-old former Broncos and Jets QB hasn’t played in the NFL since 2012, although he signed with the Eagles in 2015 and was released before the final preseason game.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity,” Tebow said. “I’m going to put in the work. With great coaches, I feel like I’m just going to improve.”
As to why Tebow hadn’t tried his hand at baseball earlier, he said, “Honestly, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a little while and came close to pulling the trigger last year, going through a day of training for baseball. But (former Eagles coach) Chip Kelly called and then I had this opportunity with the Eagles . . . I figured Coach Kelly and his offense might fit me well . . . We know how that turned out.”
Tebow’s development path will be decided after the three weeks of instructional league are over.
“Tim going to instructs and we’ll determine jointly with Tim about the next step,” Alderson said. “It might be the Arizona Fall League if that’s appropriate, or there might be a winter league, or we may decide on a more personalized development program.
“We haven’t put a timeline on this. The only timeline we have is the next week or so to attend instructional league. His development and progress will determine the length of time.”
Alderson acknowledged that he, like many others, was dubious about Tebow’s pursuit of pro baseball.
“I voiced a little skepticism at the outset,” he said, “largely as a reaction to my surprise, but after due diligence and some scouting and thought on my part and others, we thought this was a great opportunity for Tim and the Mets.”
Tebow’s workout drew mixed reviews. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.76 seconds, which would rank as above-average on the scouting scale. He hit some balls out of Dedeaux Field in batting practice.
“He was short to the ball, swing was flat,” an NL scout told BA correspondent Taylor Ward. “He swung on top of a few breaking balls but you expect that, he hasn’t seen a real pitcher.”
He also shagged some balls in the outfield. The Mets announced Tebow as an outfielder.
“He’s a fringe but serviceable outfielder,” a National League scout said. “He’ll only play left field.”
Another scout rated his throwing arm—always a question mark as a quarterback—as a 45 on the 20-80 scale. But his power potential and strength at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds helped earn him a shot at pursuing his dream of playing pro baseball.
And Alderson said Tebow’s athleticism and commitment give him a legitimate shot.
“The idea that any one player has no chance to make it to the big leagues, I reject,” Alderson said, adding that there’s a possibility Tebow could get an invite to major league spring training, although that was not part of Tebow’s agreement.
For his part, Tebow said he needed to give playing pro ball a shot.
“To be honest, it was the second-hardest decision I’ve made to give up baseball,” he said. “I just love the sport. I just want to be able to say I gave everything I had, and I did everything I could to be the best I could be.”