To say the Mets had an eventful offseason is the understatement of the century. One person who will agree with that is the man who did a lot of the work to get deals done: general manager Billy Eppler.
Will Sammon of The Athletic wrote an intriguing article after having a conversation with Eppler. After all, this past winter was the most expensive offseason in franchise history. We need to know some of the details, right?
The Mets committed about $500 million in total contract guarantees, which was easily a franchise record. With a roster emptied out from many significant players hitting free agency, they also signed 10 guys to major-league contracts. That tied a franchise record.
Sammon wrote about what went into Eppler and the Mets’ pursuit of guys like Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, and Brandon Nimmo. Each case was interesting to learn more about. I mean, it felt like Eppler didn’t do much sleeping throughout the winter as he rebuilt New York’s pitching staff. The details shared in this article back up that sentiment.
The one that caught my eye, though, was how things came together with Nimmo. He was the only elite option available on the open market to play center field. It was also the only major position-player signing the Mets made. So, how did the terms of his eight-year, $162 million contract come together?
Via group text chat, of course. It was a three-way conversation between Eppler, team owner Steve Cohen, and Nimmo’s agent, Scott Boras.
After the Winter Meetings in San Diego concluded, Eppler was hopping on a plane back to New York. Nimmo was still unsigned, and Sammon mentioned how the Amazins didn’t want to watch him sign elsewhere. Since Eppler couldn’t chat while in the air, the three of them resorted to working through details via text message:
Still, by the time Eppler boarded a return flight to New York, work remained. The Mets needed to re-sign Nimmo. In 2011, the Mets plucked Nimmo out of Wyoming with the 13th pick of the draft. For years, Nimmo battled to shed labels such as “injury-prone” and “fourth outfielder.” Now, fresh off a healthy and productive walk season, he appeared at the Winter Meetings as a gem, a two-way standout center fielder in a market devoid of them. The Mets talked publicly about alternative plans in the event they couldn’t re-sign Nimmo. Truthfully, they feared the possibility of losing him.
That Eppler couldn’t talk in the air did not prove to be a deterrent. On a three-way text thread with Cohen and Nimmo’s agent, Scott Boras, the parties hashed out an eight-year, $162 million contract to keep Nimmo in a Mets uniform. Eppler said 90 percent of the work on the deal took place over text before his cross-country flight touched down in New York.
See? If your boss says they need to talk on the phone to hash something out or have a meeting about a particular issue, they’re wrong. Point to this as proof of that. If three people can mostly come to terms on a $162 million contract without talking on the phone, then just about anything in the office can get done without actually having to speak. It’s science.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.