Brandon Nimmo returning to Mets on 8-year, $162M deal: Sources

The New York Mets and center fielder Brandon Nimmo agreed to an eight-year, $162 million contract, major-league sources confirmed to The Athletic. ESPN was first to report the news. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Nimmo played in a career-high 151 games for the Mets last season, finishing with a .274 batting average, .433 slugging percentage and 5.1 WAR.
  • The outfielder hit .278/.382/.418 against lefties since the start of 2021, a boost in his OBP and SLG compared to his earlier MLB seasons.
  • Last season was just the third time Nimmo played in at least 60 percent of the Mets’ games, including 2020.
  • The Mets also struck a one-year, $10 million deal with free-agent pitcher David Robertson on Thursday, league sources confirmed to The Athletic.

Scouting report

Nimmo entered free agency off his best statistical season. He’s a disciplined hitter who rarely chases and doesn’t swing and miss much, allowing him to post above-average OBPs even in down BABIP years. Though he’s been injury prone — even this year he had a quad strain that didn’t send him to the IL — when he was healthy, he produced.

Why the Mets re-signed Nimmo

No matter how high the payroll got, a Mets-Nimmo reunion always made sense. As Nimmo’s agent Scott Boras told The Athletic earlier this week, teams that operate like the Mets have so far this offseason typically do not leave glaring holes. Without Nimmo, center field would have been a glaring hole. After Aaron Judge, Nimmo was alone in the next tier of free-agent outfielders, and there was a huge dropoff in center field.

Nimmo is one of the few all-around center fielders who can play capable defense and also provide steady production at the plate. Nimmo is also the Mets’ leadoff hitter and his on-base skills are highly valued by the organization. Nimmo is coming off arguably his best season in which he slashed .274/.367/.433 over a career-high 673 plate appearances. – Sammon

Should New York be worried about his health?

It’s a fair question of whether or not he can stay healthy after dealing with various injuries in prior years. But the other side of the argument is that some evaluators think Nimmo can keep improving, especially because of his work ethic. What he provides is getting harder and harder to come by.

At center field, the Mets had a 134 wRC+, second only to the Yankees. There were only nine teams that had a collective wRC+ higher than 100 (league average) from center field. Other than catcher (eight teams with a collective wRC+ at the position higher than 100), it was the lowest such total for a position. In addition, the Mets keep a homegrown player whose earnestness endears him to many within their clubhouse. – Sammon

What this means for the Mets’ payroll

The “Steve Cohen tax” may have a new meaning. At its inception, that was what the final luxury tax threshold was dubbed. The figure is $293 million. After re-signing Nimmo — his $20.3 AAV is the fourth-highest on the team behind Max Scherzer ($43.3 million), Justin Verlander ($43.3 million) and Francisco Lindor ($31.9 million) —
and then Robertson, FanGraphs projects the Mets’ payroll at $322 million.

So, yeah, Cohen is blowing right by the final threshold. And why shouldn’t he at this point? Once the Mets pass that figure, however, the only difference between, say, a $300 million payroll and a $325 million payroll is the amount they are taxed. It’s been quite the offseason already for the Mets, who added Verlander to a rich deal and made Edwin Diaz the highest-paid closer in the game. All of this after signing Scherzer and extending Lindor, among other moves last season. The Mets may not yet be done, either. They could still look to sign Japanese star pitcher Kodai Senga. – Sammon

Required reading

(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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