Between winning 101 games in 2022 and following that up with a historically expensive winter, the Mets are entering 2023 with a target on their collective backs. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo — who benefitted from New York’s latest offseason spending spree — is excited about it.
Nimmo made his Grapefruit League debut over the weekend as he continues to ramp up for the regular season. In between getting to play in some games for the first time this year, the outfielder sat down for a chat with SNY’s John Harper. Among the topics they discussed were how others throughout baseball view the Mets. After all, the Amazins will have a record-setting payroll on Opening Day.
It’s been established that some team owners aren’t crazy about what Steve Cohen is doing in Flushing. Baseball’s richest owner has also shared that he doesn’t care about what others think. You can count Nimmo as another person with those same feelings.
Instead of just tolerating it, Nimmo said he craves for the Mets to be in that position.
We definitely know we’re going to have that target on our back. It comes with the territory, and I’m good with it.
We want to be the best and people want to take down the best. I want to be the team that other teams want to take down. You’ve gotta take pride in that. You’ve gotta be up for the challenge and be willing to prepare so that you’re ready every day because we’re going to get everyone’s A game.
I don’t know, we might be (the new Evil Empire). With Steve making a lot of splashes in the offseason, there are a lot of similarities. We’re doing what the Yankees always used to do: We’re going for it.
Growing up I rooted for the Rockies, but I had friends who were diehard Yankee fans. I’d say to them, ‘You’re just a Yankees fan because they’re buying their players.’ It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like them. But they were portrayed as the Evil Empire and I was like, ‘Someone go beat them.’
We’re kind of that team now. I know Steve wants to build, he wants to make the minor league system one that produces great players, but for now he’s like, ‘This is we’ve gotta do it. We’ve gotta compete.’ And I’m really happy to be a part of that.
Nimmo isn’t wrong. The similarities between how the Mets are investing in MLB talent and those 2000s Yankees teams are very similar. What the difference will be is where the Mets are three or four years from now.
The old Evil Empire just kept spending and spending. Cohen wants his squad to compete every year. But eventually, he wants the payroll back down to a normal number (whatever that means by then) with a minor-league system flush with talent.
To make this comparison come true, the Mets have one other thing to do. With that target on their back, they’re going to have to win at least one World Series title. And, preferably more than one.
Cohen has helped transform the Mets from a punchline to MLB-related jokes to an organization that’s now getting taken seriously. Going out and climbing the mountain to reach October glory is the most important — and hardest — step toward building that iconic brand they want to be.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.