Must-read: Burke Badenhop on Tim Tebow

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Free agent reliever Burke Badenhop has been penning some columns over at MLB Trade Rumors for some time now. His latest column is about former NFL quarterback and current Mets minor league outifelder Tim Tebow and how his situation compares to minor leaguers who have had to work their way up the ladder for years making less than five figures per year.

Tebow signed with the Mets on a minor league contract last month despite less-than-flattering scouting reports. He’s been playing in the Arizona Fall League and got his first hit today in his fifth game. According to MLB.com, Tebow is last among all hitters in batting average at .063.

Badenhop reminds us that Tebow took someone’s roster spot in the Mets’ minor league system. That particular player is not known, but it’s someone who certainly didn’t get a $100,000 signing bonus like Tebow. It’s someone who’d been playing baseball since childhood, someone who worked hard to make their high school and college teams and stood out enough to be drafted by a major league team. Tebow’s celebrity as a football player allowed him to transition into the minors despite not having played since his junior year of high school. He’s 29 now, so that was over a decade ago.

Badenhop writes:

[…] But, as a former player, those ends don’t necessarily justify the means.  Taking a roster spot on a minor league team is one thing, but also handing a guy $100,000 is another.  This move comes in a day and age when minor leaguers are finally standing up and voicing their displeasure with how their salaries have drastically lagged behind the overall financial growth in our game.  I immediately thought of all the struggles you have as a minor leaguer — all of the two-bedroom apartments you end up sharing with five guys.  I would have killed for even a $5,000 bonus.

To see a team give a 29-year-old with no baseball experience a six-figure bonus because he was good at college football was confusing.  The road to “The Show” isn’t a walk in the park.  You don’t get to the big leagues as a 19th-rounder and stay without earning it.  It was a badge of honor for me.  This signing makes it seem that maybe teams don’t take the grind as seriously as the players do.  It sends a very mixed message.

It would have been great if Tebow used his career switch to highlight the awful pay that minor league players endure for a shot at the big leagues. Or if he started out in the independent leagues and worked his way up to earn his place like everyone else. However, as Badenhop says, it’s not Tebow’s fault the system is so messed up. He’s just a great example to highlight certain issues.