The New York Mets reportedly balked at including Brandon Nimmo in trade deals for potential star players and the logic is rather puzzling.
They say love at first sight is a myth. However, love at first draft pick is another story. The New York Mets’ puzzling obsession with Brandon Nimmo has been holding the team back from acquiring players such as Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison.
Nimmo, Sandy Alderson’s first ever draft pick, is the primary reason why the Mets decided to sign Jay Bruce instead of acquiring McCutchen. More puzzling, it appears he wasn’t the centerpiece of a larger deal, rather, the only piece.
Heard it was straight up.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 18, 2018
Nimmo comes with five years of team control whereas McCutchen is only under contract for one more season, albeit at a more than reasonable $14.75 million. Nimmo’s cost control is valuable, sure, but is there a point of valuing such control for a bench player?
The Mets are committed to Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto (health-contingent) long-term and still have Juan Lagares under contract for a few more seasons. Nimmo, in theory, without any additions such as Jay Bruce or McCutchen himself, is a platoon player in what’s currently a log-jammed Mets outfield. If he were a projected full-time starter, rejecting such a trade is justifiable. But because he’s merely a bench option, it’s difficult to comprehend why the Mets didn’t deal from a position of strength.
The issue of outfield depth also comes into play here. Given the injury to Conforto and previous issues with Cespedes and Lagares’ health, having Nimmo adds much-needed depth. However, should he have been traded, several free agent options could provide the Mets with cost-effective solutions to fill out their bench. Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson, and Jon Jay are three of several names that could have sufficed as fourth (or fifth) outfielders. If the Mets can’t afford a player of that caliber, then that only speaks to the ever-present financial constraints that aren’t even laughable anymore.
This by no means is a knock on Nimmo. To his credit, he’s shown a good ability to get on base, decent speed and can play all three outfield positions–be it in a small sample size. It’s simply that he isn’t guaranteed consistent playing time on a team that supposedly plans to contend, making him somewhat expendable.
Is it a matter of ego on Alderson’s part? Does he need to prove to his critics that his former first-round pick can play? It’s possible.
Last point on Nimmo-Harrison: Sandy Alderson really likes Nimmo.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 17, 2018
This brings us back to Harrison. The Mets may value Nimmo over Harrison due to the current market–if Harrison was a free agent in this year’s market, would he command a contract comparable to the one (three years, $32 million, with buyouts of $1 million and $500k in 2019 and 2020) he’s already on? Probably not, but if the Mets were serious about contending, then a mild overpay for a player who can perform at second, third and both corner outfield spots might be worth the gamble.
Oh, that’s right–Harrison actually grades out as fairly average in the outfield, having only minus-two DRS in over 700 innings, per Fangraphs. Maybe the Mets aren’t losing as much outfield depth as they once thought after all.
There’s plenty to like about Nimmo and if the Mets were in a rebuild it would probably be worth their while to explore what kind of player they truly had. However, the team is at least attempting to contend. It would be nice if they acted like it.