ATLANTA (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is defending the team’s deal with Tim Tebow, saying the decision is about baseball and not any opportunity to sell merchandise.

The 29-year-old Tebow agreed Thursday to a minor league contract that includes a $100,000 signing bonus. He is attempting to launch a baseball career four years after the end of his time as an NFL quarterback.

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Alderson said Friday it wouldn’t be practical to make such a big commitment to Tebow only as an attempt to market Tebow’s name.

“I have to tell you that the notion that we’re going to spend $100,000 on a bonus for a player so we can sell a couple hundred dollars’ worth of T-shirts in Kingsport, those economics don’t work,” Alderson said before New York’s game at Atlanta. “This was not about making money.

“The opportunity to sell T-shirts and the like is almost nonexistent. This was about baseball. This was about giving somebody an opportunity to play.”

The Mets have a rookie league team in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Alderson said signing Tebow “was my idea.”

“Why not?” he asked. “From our standpoint, this is an interesting experiment.”

Tebow will report Sept. 18 to the Instructional League in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He will test his skills against younger players for three weeks before the Mets determine his next destination.

Tebow, who won national championships in football at the University of Florida in 2006 and 2008, was one of the greatest quarterbacks in NCAA history, albeit as more of a running signal-caller than a traditional drop-back passer. A former first-round pick of the Denver Broncos, Tebow struggled with his accuracy in the NFL, completing just 48 percent of his throws in 35 career games.

He projects to be an outfielder if he ever makes it to the majors. Scouts had said Tebow displayed enough raw talent to warrant an extended look, which is what the Mets have decided to do.

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