Free agent signing of Brandon Nimmo has 1 major hiccup already

Regression as a center fielder is the one downfall of the Brandon Nimmo contract already.
Texas Rangers v New York Mets
Texas Rangers v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

What kind of year has Brandon Nimmo had? He has hit well. He has gotten on base. He has also set a new personal high in home runs. There’s a lot to like about what the leadoff hitter for the New York Mets has brought to the field this season.

When he entered free agency last winter, it was a must to bring him back. Beyond sentimentality, where else were the Mets going to find such a prolific OBP guy who showed so much growth defensively?

The club did sign Starling Marte to a four-year deal the offseason prior with some thought of him becoming the club’s new starting center fielder. Because Nimmo had such a spectacular year defensively the year prior, there was never much of a competition. Now, neither one of them look especially poised to play 162 games or so at one of the toughest positions on the field. It’s the one downfall of the Nimmo contract.

Defensive regression from NY Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo is one major hiccup in his contract

We all knew going into the season that the Mets weren’t planning to keep Nimmo in center field forever. It’s a natural transition like going from having a full head of hair to something wispy to maybe a horseshoe cut until finally you shave your entire head. Most center fielders transition to a corner spot in the outfield at some point if not worse—like becoming a first baseman or DH.

One year into his eight-year deal and already Nimmo looks like the days of playing in front of the home run apple are slim. Soon enough, it’s the M&M’s who will have their place behind him.

Nimmo hasn’t been downright awful out there. However, after two consecutive seasons with a positive defensive WAR at the position, it’s a shame to see him drop down to a -0.4. He has made 4 errors already and has been worth -7 defensive runs saved.

Defensive statistics can be funny and pitting them against more easy to understand totals we get from the offense or a pitcher makes it tough to sometimes completely understand the full picture. The eye test is enough to see Nimmo isn’t quite the same out there. Some of those positive numbers referring to his range might have a little something to do with Marte losing a step as an outfielder. Nimmo might be picking up some of the slack.

Nimmo hasn’t been horrendous enough as an outfielder this year for a drastic change in direction, but the switch to a corner spot could be much sooner. Thank goodness a guy like Jett Williams has already started a transition and has a bat to match. He’d be a natural replacement for Nimmo in the near future—emphasis on the word “near.”