The Mets are fresh off agreeing to a monster deal with Justin Verlander to be a co-ace with Max Scherzer in Flushing. They’re not close to done, either. The next thing New York will probably do is find another starting pitcher for the rotation. But after that, general manager Billy Eppler needs to supplement the outfield. Will it include Brandon Nimmo or someone else?
New York’s preference is to retain its homegrown player, but the competition for his services will be stiff. Eppler spoke about the team’s chances of doing that, and while he didn’t share any details, it doesn’t sound like he’s confident. That could be evidenced by the Mets’ reported interest in Andrew Benintendi, too.
According to Pat Ragazzo of Sports Illustrated, Nimmo’s market is very strong. There are anywhere between eight to 10 teams interested right now. Like most top free agents, though, Nimmo’s camp is waiting for Aaron Judge to make a decision. Once that happens, we’ll likely see negotiations intensify for Nimmo.
Many teams have taken a liking to the Wyoming native, like the Toronto Blue Jays. I mean, it seems like they traded Teoscar Hernandez to the Seattle Mariners just so they could throw their proverbial hat into the ring. They could very easily be a serious suitor. I don’t think they’ll be among the most serious because someone is eventually going to lose out on Judge.
We don’t know for sure who else is pursuing the 2022 AL MVP winner, but it seems like a two-horse race between the Yankees and San Francisco Giants. Whoever doesn’t land the offseason’s biggest free agent will need to make a quick and meaningful pivot. That’s why I think these two could end up giving the Mets the hardest time in trying to re-sign the center fielder.
Case for the Yankees
The expectation across the industry is for Judge to re-sign with the Bronx Bombers. However, it seems like San Francisco’s chances are better than some expect. If he bolts for the Bay, we’ve heard rumors that New York plans to pivot to the shortstop market.
This could be true. But they’re also meeting with Nimmo at the Winter Meetings. That feels like more than due diligence, and Jon Heyman of the New York Post notes the Yankees are interested in adding two outfielders. Regardless of Judge’s decision, New York could give the Mets a hard time.
But if Judge does return, you’d have to think newly-re-signed Brian Cashman would pivot to a less expensive option, like Benintendi. That’s especially the case since Harrison Bader’s presence doesn’t make Nimmo a perfect fit. If the Yankees are unsuccessful in their pursuit of Judge, they might get desperate and turn to the only other elite outfield option in free agency. While still trying to acquire Bryan Reynolds via trade, of course.
Case for the Giants
San Francisco won’t have an issue affording any player this winter. Farhan Zaidi has said as much. They’ve been putting the full-court press on Judge and could be successful. If they are, that means the Giants assured him they’ll keep making meaningful additions to compete for the postseason.
The Giants are also looking to add two outfielders this winter. But Nimmo is a much better fit in center field at the pitcher-friendly Oracle Park. His gap-to-gap approach at the plate would play well on offense, too.
Similar to the Yankees, San Francisco could be a huge stumbling block to the Mets’ chances of re-signing Nimmo, regardless of Judge’s decision. But if he decides to stay with the Yankees, it feels like their pursuit of the next-best outfield option will ramp up to a level we haven’t yet seen.