"This decision was strictly driven by baseball," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters after the announcement. "This was not driven by marketing considerations."
Alderson called Tebow "a classic player development opportunity for us," comparing him to Seth Lugo and T.J. Rivera, adding that "the idea that any one player has no chance to make it to MLB, I reject."
"This is something I don’t take for granted and I am excited about," Tebow said at the press conference. "I'm looking forward to getting to work."
When asked about his expectations for success, Tebow said he "would consider success giving it everything I have.”
Tebow, 29, held an open tryout Aug. 30 in front of scouts from 28 of the 30 MLB teams. Playing in a simulated game, Tebow flashed raw power and left some scouts impressed—though, in Tebowian fashion, opinions were split.
"It was a complete waste of time," an American League scout told USA Today's Josh Peter. "It was like watching an actor trying to portray a baseball player. He tried. He tried. That's the best I can say. He is crazy strong, and could run well in one direction, but that's it. He only had one good throw of all his throws."
"That was big power," another scout, who had a more positive outlook, told Peter. "He was mishitting the ball out of the park."
While few walked out of the tryout thinking they were stumbling on a potential superstar, one thing became clear: Tebow was getting signed.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that eight teams were trying to bring in Tebow. The Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays emerged as the likeliest potential suitors. Atlanta was particularly aggressive, even courting Tebow publicly.
Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reported that the "Tebow field was narrowed to five teams" before he signed with the Mets, adding that "interest was significant."
"He has demonstrated more than rudimentary baseball skills." Alderson said of Tebow. "We think he can be a baseball player."
"Whatever Tim decides, the fact that he wants to play baseball is good for the game," Braves general manager John Coppolella said, per Mark Bowman of MLB.com. "It's similar to when Michael Jordan or others have wanted to play. It's positive to draw this kind of interest to the game and make it a story because it's good for baseball."
Of course, this isn't quite on M.J.'s level. Jordan was coming off a three-peat, was the best player in basketball and the most famous athlete on the planet. There will never be a comparable moment to when Jordan left the Bulls.
Tebow, by contrast, wasn't able to stick on an NFL roster after his run with the New York Jets in 2012. He had seemingly settled into a broadcasting role, which included well-received turns on the SEC Network and even a stint on Good Morning America.
Tebow said the following of baseball, per Peter:
This is something I love to do, and I think when you have that mindset, it lets you be free to just go out there and compete. It lets you be free to do what a lot of people think you can't do. When you don't have that (fear), it lets you be able to be free to pursue life and what you're passionate about, not what other people think you should do.
Tebow hasn't played competitive baseball since high school, but we've learned we can never count him out.