Written by Ray Vann, September 9, 2016, at 11:08 a.m.
Despite no small amount of skepticism from fans, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has announced the decision to sign on former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to a four year minor league deal starting September 19, 2016.
Some critics, however, have been more than vocal in their claims that the entire ordeal is no more than a publicity stunt meant to build upon Tebow’s name. Clearly, the Mets will benefit by having University of Florida faithful come to Port St. Lucie to watch their former QB play, boosting attendance numbers and ticket sales, but Alderson denies this had anything to do with his decision.
“While I and organization are mindful of the novel nature of this situation, this decision was strictly driven by baseball, it is not driven by marketing considerations or anything sort,” he announced when asked about the allegations
Tebow, for his part, might have a little catching up to do if he ever wants to make it to the big leagues. The last time he played organized baseball was back in 2005 as when he was just a junior at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
At that time Tebow had an impressive .448 with four home runs and 25 RBI’s, and was named All-First Coast by The Florida Times-Union, but he skipped his senior season to enroll early at Florida. He was also an all around fielder, spending time in the outfield, first base, and “and anywhere a lefty can play” he was quoted as saying.
Despite his long stretch off the field and his relatively advanced age, 29, Aldesron still said he believes Tebow can become a “classic player development opportunity” for the Mets.
“In terms of power, terms of arm and foot speed, we think he can be a baseball player,” the Mets GM told the press. “I think that is underscored by his competitiveness and determination to succeed and improve.”
He went on, saying, “Any player evaluation starts with tools and without grading everything out. Tim has been a great athlete with more than rudimentary baseball skills…with his commitment to success, this is an opportunity we think is worthwhile.”
Aside from the age and fame issues, Tebow comes with still further baggage that could pose an issue for the organization. Built into his contract is a clause giving the player off during the college football season that would allow him to abide by his broadcasting commitments with the SEC Network.
His agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, however, assured the Mets that the time off will not interfere too greatly with his abilities to play, and will only be a minor burden in the long run. Van Wagenen, it would seem, knows what he is doing, also representing Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Yoenis Cespides among others
Tebow said that leaving baseball was one of “the hardest decisions” of his life, and he is looking forward to getting this second chance to play the sport. “At 29, he’ll have to make the most of whatever chance he gets” a scout added. “There probably won’t be more than one. The guy’s a competitor. But the best basketball player ever tried and that didn’t work out.”
After spending some time in the instructional league, Alderson has mentioned that it is possible for Tebow to move on to the Arizona Fall League or the winter league, where he would face off against some of the top prospects from around the country. Should he then somehow make his way into the MLB, he would be joining Bo Jackson, Brian Jordan, and Deion Sanders as the only significant NFL players to successfully transfer over to the MLB.
Tebow won the 2007 Heisman Trophy at Florida and was a part of the 2006 and 2008 National Championship teams with the Gators. After college the Broncos chose him as the 25th pick in the 2010 draft. He next went to the Jets where he played as a back-up QB in 2012 before making his way to the Patriots (2013) and Eagles (2015) , where he was let go in the pre-season.