The New York Mets had two players receive the qualifying offer last November. Michael Conforto, coming off of a horrendous season, and Noah Syndergaard, whose last two years were spent rehabbing, each received and rejected the offer.
You could make the case that each fit perfectly into what the qualifying offer can represent. Conforto had a chance to remain with the Mets and earn his way back into good favor before officially heading into free agency. Due to his injury, something similar could be said about Syndergaard.
Both believed in their abilities enough where the one-year contract to remain with the Mets wasn’t worth it—or maybe they just wanted a change of scenery. Whatever led to the decision, the Mets only have one guy fitting this description for next season. It’s outfielder Brandon Nimmo.
The Mets may have to decide on Brandon Nimmo’s fate sooner than later
It seemed to happen overnight. Nimmo, somehow, became a better player than Conforto. It’s not official. But when you measure up the statistics, the consistency, and everything else, the only thing you can give Conforto a massive win is in the power department.
And while Conforto has been much healthier than Nimmo, he has had his own run-ins with the injury bug.
Since debuting in 2016, Nimmo has only one season of reaching 100 games or 400 plate appearances. This happened back in 2018 when we first got a glimpse of what he can truly do in an everyday lineup. The happiest man in baseball slashed .263/.404/.483 with 17 home runs and 47 RBI. It wasn’t tremendous, however, his ability to get on base showed off a skill many have come to appreciate over the last decade.
Nimmo’s plate discipline has only gotten better. He doesn’t strike out nearly as much as he did that season—140 times in 140 games. He continues to draw walks regularly, too. Even in 2019 when he batted .221, Nimmo still had an awesome .375 OBP. He followed it up with a .404 OBP in 2020 and last year, in a little more than half of the team’s games, Nimmo posted a .401 OBP.
For his career, he’s just a .266 hitter but with a .393 OBP and a 131 OPS+. Giving you some context on the OPS+ side of things, this is better than guys like Carlos Correa (127), Jose Ramirez (126), and Manny Machado (122). Nimmo is only not on the list because he has missed so much time.
If the Mets wait to commit to Brandon Nimmo, he could flee
Everyone wants Nimmo to prove he can remain healthy before getting that big fat contract from Steve Cohen. However, the longer the Mets wait, the more they risk watching him flee elsewhere.
Having grown up in Wyoming, who’s to say his heart isn’t set on landing somewhere more rural than New York City? More importantly, what team can put him in the best situation possible to win and thrive? Oh, and there’s that whole aspect of money. That’s pretty important.
We’re still getting to know Cohen and his tactics as owner of the Mets. The team hasn’t committed long-term to any players that had already played for them. Nimmo, a lifelong Met, could be the first to break the mold under this regime.
There’s a risk with not extending Nimmo ahead of time. He’s going to receive some nice contract offers on the open market. Rather than battle it out with other teams, the Mets can prioritize him this winter without having to go through the qualifying offer rigmarole early next offseason.
Yes, we do think Nimmo has to prove he can remain healthy for a full season. The risk the Mets must weigh: does he do it in spectacular fashion and leave them in the rearview mirror?