Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Diaz will each make their first trip into free agency this offseason. The pair of New York Mets players couldn’t have less in common outside of the fact that they play positions you can’t ignore.
Nimmo’s presence as a center fielder who can reach base with the best of them makes him an obvious candidate to return next season. A similar sentiment could be said about Diaz. World Series winners can’t get their championship without security in the ninth inning.
However, it’s Nimmo who should be the priority for one big reason.
Mets free agent Brandon Nimmo is the priority over Edwin Diaz
The reason: closers are much harder to predict than a center fielder. From year to year, we know one of the best closers in the game can suddenly fall flat on his face and become nothing more than a middle reliever thereafter. The same doesn’t happen quite as much with center fielders. It’s rare for a player to hit free agency and suddenly blossom.
The crop of free agent options for the Mets in these two roles this winter provide them with far fewer center field options than it does at the closer spot. The Mets could replace Diaz with a temporary solution such as one of the other free agents or even a trade candidate with experience saving game. Finding a reliable center fielder anywhere close to what Nimmo can do is much tougher. Within their own organization, they could probably get away with moving Starling Marte back there. This feels less likely with each passing game as he remains in right field.
Prospect Alex Ramirez does have the makings of becoming a future starting center fielder but those days are too distant for him to have an impact on the 2023 team. By the time he could be contributing at the major league level, Nimmo could easily slot in at a corner spot.
For a more personal reason as to why we should expect Nimmo to stay over Diaz, there’s the connection to Sandy Alderson. Nimmo was drafted by Alderson whereas Diaz was brought in via trade when Brodie Van Wagenen was the general manager. Post-BVW, the Mets haven’t been shy about trading away many of the pieces he acquired. This includes everyone from Pete Crow-Armstrong to Miguel Castro and even the no-brainer decision to DFA Robinson Cano.
The Mets should, of course, be in the market for both players. So a response of that GIF of the little girl saying “Why not both?” is too easy to say when it might not be so realistic when there is a budget even in Steve Cohen’s endless wealth.