Mets extend spring training invite to Tim Tebow

ByDavid Schoenfield ESPN logo
Thursday, January 9, 2020

The New York Mets just can't quit Tim Tebow.

Despite hitting just .163 with four home runs in 77 games at Triple-A Syracuse in 2019, the Mets have extended a spring training invitation to the 32-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner. He's one of eight non-roster invitees the club announced on Thursday.

Tebow begins his fourth full season in the Mets organization and owns a career batting line of .223/.299/.338 with 18 home runs and 327 strikeouts in 287 games. His 2019 season ended on July 21 with a laceration to his pinkie on his left hand. His 2018 season also ended early when he missed the final two months with a broken bone in his right hand.

Tebow, who works for the SEC Network as a football analyst during his baseball offseason, isn't a legitimate prospect, given his age and lack of production. The Mets have received criticism in the past for giving Tebow playing time in the minors over other players who might actually help the Mets in the future.

Tebow, however, remains popular among fans -- helping boost ticket sales for both home and road games -- and teammates, who have expressed throughout his minor league career that they enjoy having him around.

Tebow's best season in the minors came in 2018, when he hit .273/.336/.399 at Double-A Binghamton -- not terrible, but as a left fielder with poor range and below-average speed, the profile isn't that of a future major leaguer, even if he were 22 instead of 32.

Earlier in the offseason, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen did not rule out the possibility of Tebow playing for the Mets this season. "[He's] one step away," Van Wagenen said. As a non-roster player, Tebow would have to be added to the 40-man roster if he ever got called up to the majors, which would potentially mean removing another player.

Among the other non-roster invitees were left-handed pitcher David Peterson, the club's first-round pick in 2017 who had a 4.19 ERA at Double-A in 2019, and 22-year-old lefty Kevin Smith, the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2019 after posting a 3.15 ERA between Class A and Double-A.