The Atlanta Braves are interested in signing Tim Tebow after meeting with the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback, a union that would prove symbiotic for both parties.
Tebow, 29 and a budding outfielder, and the Braves met after an open tryout in Los Angeles on Tuesday that drew 28 of 30 major league teams, Braves general manager John Coppolella told USA TODAY Sports.
“If we sign him,’’ Coppolella said, “its because we think he has a chance to help us at some point.’’
Five clubs indicated interest after the workout, during which he flashed some power potential and decent speed, but struggled against live pitching and displayed a below-average throwing arm.
There figures to be greater upside for the Braves, however, whose interest was first reported by ESPN.
The parent club is located in the heart of Southeastern Conference country, less than a five-hour drive from where Tebow played his college football at the University of Florida.
What’s more, the club’s minor league affiliates are sprinkled throughout SEC country — where Tebow remains a popular figure as an analyst for the ESPN-owned state network of Southern football.
One of the Braves’ rookie league clubs plays on the Disney-owned Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, from which Tebow could begin a journey to the major leagues that would keep him exclusively in the South.
Its low-Class A affiliate is located in Rome, Ga., 70 miles from Atlanta, while its AA squad is in Pearl, Miss.
And the Braves’ Class AAA club is located in Gwinnett County, and the Gwinnett Braves stadium is a mere 35 miles from Atlanta.
The real kicker: The Braves and their parent company, Liberty Media, own both of their rookie league clubs (the other is in Danville, Va.), their Class AA club and their AAA club. In short: No franchise would directly profit from Tebow’s barnstorming tour through the minor leagues more than Atlanta.
And lest we forget, the Braves will open SunTrust Park in suburban Cobb County in 2017, with a club likely a year or two away from contention. Suntrust Park caps off a 15-year run during which the Braves have, according to Bloomberg, received more than $500 million in public funds to build ballparks from the low minors all the way to Atlanta.
The Braves expect several top prospects, such as infielders Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies, to develop into stars in the early years of Suntrust Park. In the meantime, should Tebow show any aptitude in hitting a baseball thrown by professional pitchers, he’d make a decent gate attraction at the big league level.
That remains a longshot, but the Braves pocketing cash as Tebow moves up the ladder would be money in the bank.
SOURCE: USA Today Sports – Gabe Lacques, Bob Nightengale