Tim Tebow is about to get the big-league experience, even if the move is only temporary.
The New York Mets announced Friday that Tebow — the former Florida Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner — is one of nine players not currently on the team’s 40-man roster who has been invited to take part in Major League spring training.
This means Tebow, 30, will spend his spring playing in games with major-league players.
The Mets signed Tebow to a minor-league contract in September 2016, and he has been with the organization since then, even while juggling his responsibilities as an ESPN college football analyst. At the time of his signing, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said that the decision “was strictly driven by baseball” and that the organization would benefit from having Tebow’s experience and athletic experience in the clubhouse.
However, Alderson admitted in July that the move was made in part because of Tebow’s celebrity.
“Look, we signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business,” Alderson said, according to Roger Rubin of Newsday. “My attitude is, ‘Why not?’”
Tebow had some bright spots in his first full season at the minor-league level last year. There was his 12-game hitting streak in early July after being promoted to the Mets’ high Class A affiliate, the St. Lucie Mets. There were the home runs in his minor-league debut and in his first game after being promoted to St. Lucie.
Overall, though, Tebow’s season stats were mediocre at best, especially at the lower levels. He finished his first season hitting .226 with eight home runs and 52 RBI while striking out 126 times in 126 games.
The Mets begin spring training on Feb. 19 in Port St. Lucie.