The New York Mets are having a great year in 2022 and have a World Series-contending roster. The problem is that several of the team’s key contributors will also be free agents at the end of the year, leaving their future with the Mets very much in doubt.
Much of the focus recently has been on the various starting pitchers that the Mets will need to make decisions on. Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker will have the opportunity to test free agency, making it likely that some of those four will not return next season.
For this article, I would like to turn the focus to a key position player for the Mets who will be a free agent after the 2022 World Series, and that player is center fielder Brandon Nimmo.
Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo should be brought back for 2023 and beyond.
Nimmo has been a key contributor for the Mets over the past few seasons. Although originally expected to serve as a corner outfielder for the team, the lack of solid center fielders have resulted in the Mets deploying him at the position more often than not. Even with the arrival of Starling Marte, Nimmo has remained in center field.
There are three major reasons why Nimmo should be retained by the Mets. The first reason why Nimmo should be brought back is because of his ability to get on base. Over the past couple years, Nimo has primarily been placed atop the Mets lineup, and he has performed in that role brilliantly. With a walk rate of close to 10%, that is well above the league average. With the league’s strong focus on analytics and swinging for the fences, on-base percentages have dipped across the league. However, Nimmo remains one of the few hitters that can flirt with a .400 on-base percentage, and this makes him an important addition in the Mets lineup.
The second reason why Nimmo should be retained is because he has improved defensively at center field. When he was first brought up to the Mets, he was considered to have limited range in center. However, through his hard work at learning the position, Nimmo has improved as a fielder and now ranks as an average or above-average center field by the advanced metrics. In 2022, he is posting -1 defensive runs saved, 2.7 Ultimate Zone Rating, and 5 outs above average.
The third reason is that the market for center fielders is thin. Not many players who can man center field will be hitting free agency at the end of the season, giving the Mets with few options to replace Nimmo if he were to walk. Kevin Kiermaier and Enrique Hernandez are center field options who will be free agents, but both are nowhere near as good as Nimmo. Kiermaier is great defensively but limited offensively, and he will also be coming back from hip surgery. Therefore, he is a big question mark as to what he will be able to provide. Hernandez, meanwhile, has an OBP of less than .300, so he wouldn’t be the on-base threat Nimmo is.
The Mets have indicated that they would like to retain Nimmo, and based on the reasons mentioned earlier, they should make a good faith effort to do so. Nimmo’s been productive as a Met, still has plenty of years of quality baseball left in him, and is one of the Mets homegrown players. Based on his current production, Nimmo may want a contract similar to Lorenzo Cain’s 5-year, $80 million deal with the Brewers five seasons ago.
The question for the Mets is: will they be willing to pay Nimmo a contract around that and possibly exceed it?