The New York Mets signed former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to a minor league contract on Thursday, the team announced in a press release.
The 29-year-old Tebow, who held a workout for scouts and evaluators from 28 major league organizations last month, was given a $100,000 signing bonus and will play in the Instructional League. He could also be sent to the Arizona Fall League, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted.
"While I and the organization I think are mindful of the novel nature of this situation, this decision was strictly driven by baseball," Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said. "This was not something that was driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort. We are extremely intrigued with the potential that Tim has. He has demonstrated over his athletic career that he is a tremendous athlete, has great character, a competitive spirit. And aside from the age, this is a classic player development opportunity for us."
Though he hasn’t played competitive baseball since high school, Tebow impressed some scouts with his raw power and bat speed during the August workout. He played the outfield during the showcase. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said there were about eight teams in the mix for Tebow. Atlanta Braves General Manager John Coppolella this week publicly expressed an interest in signing Tebow.
"We don't have to listen to what everybody else wants us to do with our lives," Tebow said during a telephone conference call. "We get to do what we want."
The Mets will be Tebow's second go-round in New York. He was the Jets' backup quarterback during the 2012 season.
Many analysts expect Tebow to eventually be promoted to the Double-A level of the minors, given his age. The Mets' have their Double-A team in Binghamton.
If Tebow, who bats and throws lefthanded, is sent to the Arizona Fall League, he'll immediately face some of the best young talent the minor leagues have to offer. The Fall League rosters are filled with prospects from all 30 teams.
Tebow's foray onto the diamond follows in the footstep of Michael Jordan, who famously quit the NBA in 1993 to pursue baseball with the Chicago White Sox. Jordan played in 127 games for the White Sox Double-A affiliate, batting .202 with three home runs and 30 stolen bases in 1994. He eventually switched back to basketball.
"I would consider success giving everything I have," Tebow said. "I would consider success putting in the work and looking back on this opportunity and this journey 10, 15, 20 years from now and saying that I gave everything I had, I did everything I could do to be the best that I could be. I don't necessarily view success or failure as how many rings or championships or promotions you get."
The quarterback has served as an ESPN college football analyst since his NFL career came to an end, and Tebow will be allowed to leave the Instructional League to continue that job. Tebow played three seasons with the Denver Broncos and Jets, leading the Broncos to the playoffs during the 2011 season. He finished his career 8-6 in 35 games, 16 starts, with a 47.9 completion percentage, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed for 12 touchdowns.
Tebow was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft after a stellar college career at the University of Florida. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and won the National Championship during the 2006 and 2008 seasons.
Tebow batted .448 with four home runs and 25 RBIs as a high school junior in Florida. He was named All-First Coast by The Florida Times-Union that season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.