Outfielder Brandon Nimmo is about to hit the open market after spending the entirety of his professional baseball career with the Mets. Will he be back in Flushing for 2023 and beyond?
Nimmo has expressed a desire to continue playing for the team that drafted him. But as we all know, anything can happen in free agency.
Brandon Nimmo’s potential contract numbers
New York is surely interested in retaining the homegrown player. General manager Billy Eppler won’t be the only one calling Nimmo and his agent, Scott Boras, this winter, though. After making just $7 million in 2022 while producing a career-high 5.4 fWAR, the left-handed hitter is due for a handsome raise.
What kind of contract could he fetch this offseason? It seems like the starting point will be around $100 million for the soon-to-be 30-year-old. And depending on how things go, Nimmo might be signing a contract for five, six, or even seven years.
We don’t know what Nimmo’s market looks like just yet. However, there’s one team with him on their “preliminary” wish list. That’s the Colorado Rockies, according to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The Rockies have suffered through four straight losing seasons, including a 68-94 mark in 2022.
This could be an intriguing scenario, though, because Nimmo is originally from Wyoming. So, he’d be much closer to home if he played in Denver. You know, kind of like what Las Vegas native Kris Bryant did last winter when he signed a deal worth more than $180 million with Colorado.
Competitive market could drive up Nimmo’s price
In his reader mailbag, Saunders noted some estimates have Nimmo’s contract at five years and approximately $115-120 million. This tracks with other estimates that he’d land somewhere between $20-25 million per season.
But it could be different if other teams get involved. Boras usually doesn’t rush his clients into signing a deal. The first free-agent outfielder domino to fall may be Aaron Judge. So, Brandon Nimmo could wait to see where he ends up because it will impact his market.
If Judge re-signs with the Yankees, then clubs who missed out (like the San Francisco Giants) may start pursuing him. And if Judge leaves New York, the Bronx Bombers may be looking for another outfielder themselves. The Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Nimmo, too.
Do you know what these teams all have in common? They’re willing and able to afford a contract like the one we’ve been discussing. Regardless of the situation and how robust Nimmo’s market ends up being, it looks like Boras will set the contract floor around that five-year, $120 million mark.
With competition out on the open market, it’ll be easy for Nimmo’s asking price — in both money and years — to go up. I wouldn’t be shocked if things got into the neighborhood of Jacoby Ellsbury’s seven-year, $153 million deal he signed with the Yankees in 2013.
Could Mets be comfortable overpaying?
Would that be worth it for the Mets? There are probably many fans who’d be OK with New York going in a different direction at that price. After all, the club has to spend a lot of money to remain competitive in 2023 — those funds could go elsewhere on the roster.
I think the Mets might be comfortable overpaying for Brandon Nimmo (to these levels, at least). Outside of Judge, who isn’t a natural center fielder, the free-agent market for that position is quite thin. The only other “enticing” option is Kevin Kiermaier if the Tampa Bay Rays don’t exercise his $13 million club option.
Center field is an important position on defense, and Nimmo has just gotten better with his glove. His 6 Outs Above Average (OAA) ranked in the 91st percentile in 2022. And for those wanting to mention his weak arm, it was in the 72nd percentile and has improved a lot since 2020.
Outside of the improved defense, there are no free-agent center fielders (other than Judge, of course) who can provide his level of offense when healthy. In 673 plate appearances, Nimmo slashed .274/.367/.433 with 16 homers, 64 RBI, and 102 runs scored. That performance helped lead to a 134 wRC+.
We don’t know whether the Mets truly are comfortable overpaying to keep Nimmo in center field moving forward. It’s easy to see why they would be, though, even with any injury concerns.