NEW YORK -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson seemed to insult everyone’s intelligence two weeks ago.
Alderson insisted that the signing of 29-year-old Tim Tebow was a baseball move -- end of story.
“The notion that we're going to spend $100,000-plus on a player so we can sell a couple of hundred dollars worth of T-shirts in Kingsport [Tennessee, home of the Kingsport Mets] -- those economics don't work," Alderson said. "This was not about making money."
Then came the first Tebow workout on Monday in Port St. Lucie, Florida. With it came the rollout of Tebow jerseys ($119.99) and T-shirts ($29.99) at the Instructional League workout and on the MLB website.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that by midday Monday, Tebow jersey sales ranked third on MLB’s website, trailing only the jerseys of David Ortiz and Kris Bryant. “Tim Tebow jerseys” was the most popular merchandise search on the site.
No one is begrudging the Mets for cashing in. It’s what everyone viewed this to be in the first place.
Still, no one from the Mets wanted to retract Alderson’s statement on Monday. There were roughly 400 fans attending Tebow’s workout, and the in-person jersey sales -- revenue the Mets do not share with other teams -- were deemed inconsequential. As for the sales on MLB’s website, those are split among all 30 clubs. The Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves benefit as much as the Mets from the Tebow jersey sales.
For the record, the Mets say there is no Tebow merchandise available at Citi Field. Nor will there be, unless Tebow reaches the majors -- so probably never. That said, a fan can request a custom jersey at Citi Field with Tebow’s name and No. 15 on it, just as a fan can request his or her own name. The Mets do not split that revenue with other clubs -- just with Aramark, the Citi Field vendor.
Tebow is profiting too, beyond the $100,000 signing bonus the Mets handed him. Rovell writes: “Teams usually are not allowed to use a player's name or image until he makes the 40-man major league roster, as those players are not considered part of the union. But sources said Tebow signed a bridge agreement with the official jersey supplier Majestic Athletic last week, which allows the company to merchandise him before he makes the majors.”
Meanwhile, Mets manager Terry Collins checked in with his counterparts in Florida, including rehab coordinator Jon Debus, after Monday’s workout to see how Tebow performed. Collins relayed to media at Citi Field that Tebow was in phenomenal shape. There was no mention of his being an actual prospect.
“They said it was pretty interesting," Collins said. "Jon said, ‘I’ve seen a lot of guys work hard.’ He said, ‘This guy’s a monster.’ He said he was sweating pretty profusely at the end of the day, but he said he was in good shape.
“He said everything he did, he got a round of applause, so I’m sure it was fun.”