Mets Should Be Extending, Not Trading Brandon Nimmo

Seemingly since the day he was the Mets first round pick in the 2011 draft, Brandon Nimmo has been on the trade block. If not for suspect medicals for another prospect in the trade, Nimmo would have been traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the Jay Bruce trade.

In the ensuing two years, Nimmo would show the Mets just how lucky they were that the original iteration of the Bruce trade failed.

In 2018, Nimmo hit .263/.404/.483 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers, and 49 RBI. His OBP was second in the National League to only Joey Votto. Only the National League MVP Christian Yelich would top Nimmo’s 148 wRC+.

Despite his pedigree in being a first round pick, former top 100 prospect, and being named to the Future’s Game roster twice, there were still those who doubted Nimmo calling him a fourth outfielder. They’d jump on his early season struggles to prove their point.

The problem with drawing those conclusions was Nimmo was hurt. Very hurt. A bulging disc had a negative impact on his stats and cost him 89 games. With that injury, and the setbacks he had during his rehab, there were some concerns about Nimmo’s ability to return to his 2018 form.

Nimmo would quiet those concerns when he returned in September. Nimmo would play in 26 of the Mets 27 games that month, and he would hit .261/.430/.565 with four doubles, a triple, five homers, and 15 RBI. Aside from just his ability to stay on the field, he showed the ability to replicate the success he had the previous season.

Now, Nimmo is entering his first year of arbitration, and according to MLB Trade Rumors, Nimmo is projected to receive just $1.7 million for 2020. Between his neck injury and the low salary arbitration figure, this is likely the cheapest Nimmo is going to be.

That $1.7 million figure is going to increase significantly until he hits free agency after the 2022 season. At that time, he will be just 29 years old set to get a large free agent deal. Notably, Michael Conforto will have already hit free agency, and the Mets simply do not have the farm system to sustain losing both Nimmo and Conforto.

When you combine Nimmo’s speed, as well as his ability to play all three outfield positions, he has the ability to help the Mets withstand the loss of Conforto, or better yet, allow the team to make the hard decisions it may need to one day make. He also played better defensively than most believe. As noted by Baseball Savant, last year, he had a 2 OAA, and that is a year after his 5 OAA.

Nimmo is the type of young, cheap player who the Mets should be looking to keep as the core of their team, and that is before you take into account intangibles like his hustle and his being a fan favorite. Axiomatically, locking up Nimmo now also helps the Mets keep salaries down at a time when the Mets are trying to create room in the budget.

When you break it down, the Mets should be finding common ground towards an extension buying up a year or two of Nimmo’s free agent years instead of shopping him around for players who may very well not prove to be anywhere near as good as he will be.

6 Replies to “Mets Should Be Extending, Not Trading Brandon Nimmo”

  1. holmer says:

    I rarely agree with you, Metsdaddy, but this time I do. Does Marte, with his 11.5 M contract and declining defensive numbers, better than Nimmo with his 1.7M contract and average or slightly below average defensive numbers? It doesn’t make economic sense nor does it make baseball sense.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      That’s another factor

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Bingo, md.

    Nimmo is the kind of player with terrific upside that you can probably extend cheaply. Clearly, the Mets are among the worst teams at this, but a team should have constant updates on what they think their players are going to be worth based on their medical histories. If the Mets think Nimmo’s going to be 90% of the player he was, 75% of the time, then their starting offer should be as if he was going to be 50% of the player he was, 40% of the time. See if he bites. Early on players–especially players who aren’t superstars–are much more prone to taking tens of millions in advance salary than they are later in their careers when they have longer track records, are closer to FA, and have already made 30m or 50m or 70m…

    Imagine if the Mets had a GM, let’s call him, I dunno, “Chaim Bloom,” a guy who is used to extending young players because that’s the only way a team can keep more than a few of them. Now imagine if this guy was pretty good at extending players with limited MLB experience and players with uneven medical histories. If he had been the GM of the Mets for the last 5 years he would probably have extended, cheap, in their first few years, all of deGrom, Syndergaard, Nimmo, Rosario, Plawecki, Matz, and Wheeler. I’m assuming Conforto would have turned it down because Boras–but after his injury? Maybe he bites. As for someone like Plawecki, you assume a modest backup catcher, and make an offer based on that projection. It’s interesting that we don’t tend to hear more 5/10m deals with two team options in the player’s first FA years at something like 3m apiece.

    Obviously you don’t extend Nimmo at 8/120m, but at the right price, you take the risk of locking him up. One of the few ways to get deals any longer in baseball is by buying low, and one way you do that is when you as the team have most of the leverage–when a player is young, has a short track record, perhaps has some health issues as has everyone on my list except Rosario, and this is key: has yet to make the big money. Imagine the pressure a player’s spouse puts on him to sign when he goes home with his first 25m offer when he’s only made to date 2 x the MLB minimum.

    Do you get the occasional lemon? Sure. Of course. The Mets had Lagares. But the cost of those lemons is small compared with the bargains you get when the player proves out. The best contracts in baseball from the team’s pov are typically those signed by players in their first couple of years in the majors. Evan Longoria, for years, routinely made the top of the list of “best contract in baseball” because the Rays signed him iirc after he had played all of 6 games. (Yup: wikipedia: “On April 18, the Rays signed him to a six-year, $17.5 million contract with options for 2014, 2015, and 2016.”)

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