What the Mets should look to get back in a Brandon Nimmo trade
By Allen Settle
What would a New York Mets trade involving Brandon Nimmo look like?
The expected abolishment of the universal DH is particularly devastating for the 2021 New York Mets. The franchise, which has an abnormal number of poor defenders with valuable bats, greatly benefited from the extra position in 2020.
This change is expected to affect Dom Smith more than any other player on the roster. The breakout star will now be forced to resume full-time defensive duties in order to maintain consistent at-bats. This will have a major effect on the rest of the roster. As things currently stand, Smith will likely be slotted as a corner outfielder, opposite Michael Conforto.
This means that one fan favorite will be at serious risk of limited playing time: Brandon Nimmo. Here are three key factors in why the Mets should consider trading their former first-round pick and what they could potentially add in return.
The Outfield Logjam
Nimmo carved out an everyday role as the primary centerfielder last season. However, after posting abysmal defensive numbers, the team is actively searching for other options at that position. With veterans like Conforto, Smith, and Davis all vying for outfield playing time, it appears as though Nimmo will be left without a natural role. This will be even more obvious should the team land George Springer or another everyday centerfielder.
While he may have value as a pinch hitter and fourth outfielder, one must wonder whether the team would benefit more from exchanging Nimmo for a position of greater need. For the record, the Mets seem to have another valuable bench bat in whoever loses the shortstop battle between Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez.
This begs the important question: What could be Mets expect in return for Nimmo?
Assuming the Mets are able to fill their gap in outfield through free agency, there are still a number of opportunities to improve the overall roster. As a starting point, the disastrous showing from their rotation in 2020 made it clear that there is no such thing as too many reliable starters. This need is even more pressing due to the uncertainty surrounding Noah Syndergaard’s return.
While the team was able to fill their need for a starting catcher by signing James McCann, they may be interested in adding a secondary backstop with a more complete game than incumbent Tomas Nido.
Additionally, the Mets, like every team in MLB, could certainly benefit from additional help in the bullpen. In particular, the team could use a lefty reliever.
Should the Mets be able to flip Nimmo for his equivalent at one of these key positions, it would be wise to seriously consider the option.
Prospective Trade Partners
There are a few teams that would likely be especially interested in a player like Nimmo. The Cleveland baseball team is notably barren of major league caliber outfield options. Conveniently enough, Cleveland also has a reputation of excellence at developing their pitching talent. Should the Mets decide to emphasize their starting rotation, Cleveland would be a perfect place to start.
Should the St. Louis Cardinals lose out on the Marcell Ozuna sweepstakes, they too may be in the market for an MLB-ready outfielder. In fact, speculation that the franchise is targeting corner outfielders with a similar profile to Nimmo is already running rampant. While major league assets seem less obvious in this deal, this avenue may be a good way for the Mets to restock their farm system.
A dark-horse partner may be the Detroit Tigers. The franchise made the decision to call up former number one pick Casey Mize in 2020 and hired World Series champion A.J. Hinch as manager during the offseason. These may be signs the franchise is looking to accelerate their rebuild as they seek postseason contention. Detroit also has a few interesting arms that the Mets could discuss.
Nimmo’s high on-base percentage and solid corner outfield defense make him a valuable MLB asset. Should the Mets elect to send him to a team where he can maximize his talent they should be sure to set a high price tag. In fact, he could even be used as a piece in a deal to acquire a bigger star such as Francisco Lindor or Nolan Arenado.
There should be no situation in which the Mets sell low or feel pressure to expedite a bad trade. However, considering their substantial depth at the corner outfield position, they should also be wary of allowing a player of Nimmo’s caliber to ride the bench without a clear plan toward utilization.
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If the Mets are able to find a worthy offer, they should not be afraid to part with their energetic outfielder in order to improve the overall depth chart. Depending on their plans, it may even be worth initiating conversations with the aforementioned teams.