New York Mets announced Thursday, April 8, that they have signed ex-NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to a minor-league contract.
The announcement came early in the morning and completely took the league’s attention off the playoff race in the final month of the regular season. Tebow held a private workout for 28 MLB teams on August 30 to prove that he is worth taking a chance on. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson saw something in Tebow, and made the move to sign Tebow to a contract.
“This decision is strictly driven by baseball,” said Alderson. “This was not driven by marketing considerations. He has demonstrated more than rudimentary baseball skills. We believe he can be a baseball player.”
Tebow is a lightning rod amongst the sports world, either people like him or hate him. Detractors have not stopped Tebow before, so he knows how to handle this situation.
“I know this is a tough game,” said Tebow. “But I’m looking forward to putting in the work and I felt like this was the best fit.”
The Mets took the opportunity to sign Tebow in the hopes that he develops into a serviceable baseball player, and it is a “low risk, high reward,” deal. Tebow hasn’t played baseball since he was 17 years old playing for Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida. During his pro workout, pro baseball scout Dave DeFrietas of 2080baseball.com had the following observations:
Raw Power: “Generates backspin carry; ball jumps.”
Run: “Moves well for size; power runner, not overly explosive.”
Arm: “Shows some carry, but below average overall. Slow release, footwork isn’t great.”
Glove: “Moves well, but not used to reads off bat. Corner OF [outfielder] profile.”
Tebow will enter the Mets’ Instructional League in order to develop skills necessary to progress up the ranks. However, it was reported that Tebow will not be attending camp every day, citing that Tebow still wants to keep his job with ESPN as college football analyst for their SEC Network. The main reason why Tebow decided to sign with the Mets is because they were willing to work around his ESPN schedule.
“Tim is committed to his role at SEC Network and ESPN this fall,” said ESPN Senior Vice President of Event and Studio Production Stephanie Druley. “We have always been supportive of Tim’s athletic pursuits. His new schedule will allow him to continue as a college football analyst on SEC Nation this fall.”
Many in MLB have differing opinions on Tebow transitioning from football into baseball. As you’d expect, some were supportive and some were skeptical.
“I spent time with Tebow in the cages recently, he’s a natural,” says former MLB outfielder Gary Sheffield. “I absolutely believe in his ability to play in the bigs. Tim has IT.”
With words of encouragement, there are words of doubt.
“After this MLB season, I’m going to try out for the NFL this offseason,” said Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. “I haven’t played since high school but I’ve played in a few Turkey Bowls since.”
Tebow has faced jokes and scrutiny on his playing ability during his NFL tenure, so one’s got to believe that he knows how to handle it. It will be an interesting story to follow once he begins at the Mets’ Instructional League.
Tebow played at the University of Florida, where he won two National Championships (2006 and 2008) and the Heisman Trophy in 2007. Tebow was drafted in 2010 by the Denver Broncos, where he played two seasons and has one postseason victory (2011 Wild Card Round vs. Pittsburgh Steelers). He was traded to the New York Jets in 2012 and was released from his contract in 2013. He would join the New England Patriots in 2013, but was cut at the end of the preseason. Tebow signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, but was also cut at the end of the preseason.