Like many teams hanging out at the top of the free-agent market, the Mets have lots of things cooking right now. Finding a designated hitter doesn’t appear to be one of them. However, they’ve been very active in the starting pitching market while staying in touch with center fielder Brandon Nimmo.
But in a recent article by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, he said this about the Mets’ current priorities:
At this point, the Mets seem more fixed on landing another top-flight starter than on retaining Nimmo. If they stick at about their $300 million-ish payroll level of last season, it would be difficult (perhaps impossible) to do both. But if the Mets go to the next level of starter with Senga or Chris Bassitt, then shoehorning Nimmo back onto the roster becomes more probable.
Nimmo was an integral part of the outfield and top of the lineup for New York last season. Why wouldn’t Billy Eppler and Co. be as focused on him as they are on supplementing the rotation? Well, for a couple of reasons.
The rotation still has multiple holes, and the Mets would like to give Max Scherzer a co-ace. Nimmo is far and away the best free-agent center fielder available. That means his market is ridiculously deep. With Scott Boras as his agent, it’s not outrageous to think his ultimate price will go higher than the Mets are comfortable with.
Sherman equated the top of the rotation market to musical chairs. There are several options that many of the same teams are considering. Whether it’s deGrom, Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, Kodai Senga, or a combination of those two, New York appears more confident about getting what they desire. That’s in stark contrast to Nimmo, who is the apple of many teams’ eyes and the only elite center-field option available.
If the Mets want to keep their payroll around $300 million, Sherman also says signing deGrom or Verlander and Nimmo at their projected price tags might not be possible. With this target, the organization would prefer to fill the rotation with top-flight options and turn to alternatives for center field.
This would include Cody Bellinger and Kevin Kiermaier, both of which we’ve mentioned in the past. They have proved to be solid defensively while also being underwhelming at the plate. Between these two, though, Bellinger at least has some offensive upside as a bounce-back candidate. Kiermaier, who will be 33 years old in April, is a known commodity in the batter’s box.
Mets fans may be upset about Nimmo not being a top priority for New York. That’s understandable given what he brings to the table. But it’s a numbers game here. They’re still engaged with the outfielder’s camp. However, filling the rotation with preferred options is more likely simply because there are more available in the starting pitching market.