Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella confirmed the team's interest in Tim Tebow and said the Braves have had "multiple" conversations with Tebow's representatives as a step toward signing him to a professional baseball contract.
Coppolella called a potential Tebow signing a "low-risk'' investment, and said the Braves' interest is rooted in Tebow's promise on the field rather than his ability to sell tickets. Tebow is well-known among fans in Southeastern Conference country from his tenure as a Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national championship quarterback under Urban Meyer with Florida.
"We are interested in Tim because of his potential as a baseball player, not as a gate attraction,'' Coppolella said during the Braves' series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. "We have spoken with his representatives multiple times and all parties involved want this to be a pure baseball thing on every level."
Tebow, 29, worked out for 46 scouts representing 28 teams last week in Los Angeles. Among those in attendance were Braves special assistant Roy Clark and amateur scouting director Brian Bridges.
The Braves' interest in Tebow was first reported by ESPN's Pedro Gomez and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Tebow, who hasn't played organized baseball since his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, in 2005, has been working out with former big league catcher Chad Moeller in Scottsdale, Arizona, since Memorial Day. Tebow spent almost two hours last week at the USC's Dedeaux Field running a 60-yard dash, shagging fly balls, throwing from the outfield and taking swings against former major league pitchers David Aardsma and Chad Smith in his audition for clubs.
Brodie Van Wagenen, Tebow's baseball agent at CAA, told reporters that several clubs stayed after the workout to meet face-to-face with Tebow. The Colorado Rockies are reportedly another team with interest in the former quarterback.
Tebow's representatives would like him to sign a contract in time to attend the instructional league and possibly play in the Arizona Fall League this offseason before he joins a minor league affiliate next spring. Tebow also wouldn't rule out the possibility of playing winter ball this offseason to get at-bats.
If the Braves can agree to terms with Tebow, it will rekindle an organizational tradition of signing high-upside, multisport athletes that began under former general manager John Schuerholz in the 1990s. Schuerholz, who is now the Braves' vice chairman, signed Deion Sanders as a free agent in 1991 and brought Brian Jordan to Atlanta through free agency in 1998. Sanders is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and Jordan spent three years in the NFL as a safety with the Atlanta Falcons.
During Schuerholz's previous tenure as general manager in Kansas City, the Royals chose Bo Jackson of Auburn in the fourth round of the draft. Jackson made the 1989 American League All-Star team as an outfielder with the Royals and was a Pro Bowl running back with the Oakland Raiders in 1990.