A neck injury has cost Brandon Nimmo a large part of his 2019 campaign. When he does return to the New York Mets, what’s his future moving forward?
Not long ago, we asked New York Mets fans whether they thought Brandon Nimmo or Dominic Smith would have a better big league career. In the time since, the Mets have shut Nimmo down from his rehab due to a bulging disk in his neck. The promising young outfielder put together an awesome 2018 campaign which had him on many people’s lists to contribute moving forward.
One injury doesn’t guarantee a career is completely derailed regardless of how devastating it is. The opposite, however, can also be true.
This is the kind of lingering injury that can cost a player an entire season and even force him to hang up his cleats early. Neck injuries are never easy in any industry. They forced Prince Fielder, an older player at the time, into an early retirement only a few years ago. Considering Nimmo’s faster style of play, I’m gravely concerned about him moving forward. This seemingly minor ailment has now stolen away his 2019.
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Next year is Nimmo’s age 27 season, which also puts him one year closer to free agency. The 2020 campaign is his first arbitration-eligible season, likely to end with an affordable contract the Mets would only move on from if they don’t believe he can return healthy.
The bigger question is what role Nimmo would have with this ball club even if he does heal up. Next year, they have plenty of in-house options to help align the outfield in a variety of ways. Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and even Jeff McNeil are all outfielders from this season who should all be considerations. There’s also the possibility of revisiting a plan to transfer shortstop Amed Rosario there to open a path for Andres Gimenez on the big league roster once ready.
Nimmo is a passable center fielder and a similar thing could be said about Conforto. Both are better utilized in a corner spot, making it a little more difficult to get everyone at-bats. The Mets are already giving J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith starts in left field. This would give the team a deep outfield lacking a true center fielder. It’s not a good position to find yourself.
Offensively, Nimmo showed his strengths and weaknesses in 2018 to some extremes. He struck out 140 times in 140 games. Before landing on the IL this year, he had 48 strikeouts in 43 games.
The big difference between Nimmo in 2018 and 2019 is how his batting average went from .263 to .200. The limited sample size and an attempt to work through a misbehaving body is probably a culprit. Nevertheless, we won’t know until he gets back on the field feeling 100%.
Nimmo could have a role with the Mets in the future, but unfortunately, his absence in 2019 does raise questions. Is he someone who they should plan to play every day moving forward? Or is he better served in a platoon situation? If the latter choice fits better, who does he platoon with?
The Mets outfield is lefty-heavy, suggesting a possible trade somewhere down the line. Nimmo’s unique knack of getting on base is something that intrigued me plenty in 2018. Moving forward, I’m not as sure what to think.
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What role do you think Nimmo will have with the Mets in the future?