Mets' First Order of Business: Extend Nimmo

Mets have decisions to make this winter, but this should be at the top of the list

Image credit: Chris Simon

What have you done for me lately? is an age-old mantra around here. We’re about to see that process play out in real-time this offseason.

There will assuredly be a ton of roster turnover for the New York Mets this winter. Perennially falling short of the bar with an impressive cache of incumbent talent necessitates as much.

Michael Conforto’s expected departure in free agency signals the beginning of the end for the positional core that’s developed at the big-league level in recent years.

J.D. Davis casually alluding to his time in Queens appearing to come to an end and moderately unknown futures for Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith also indicate that things could actually come close to a full tear-down.

To be clear, we’re not advocating that. But it’s gotta be on the table, right? Keeping McNeil and Smith around seems wise considering their defensive versatility and offensive profiles. But it’s fair to assume everyone’s on the block this winter outside of a select few.

Pete Alonso, who is by all accounts cemented into the Mets’ future (with a contract extension looking exceedingly possible), and Francisco Lindor (likewise, but with $341 million already heading his way over the next decade) are here for the long run.

Jacob deGrom is in the mix through 2023 with an opt-out after 2022 and a club option for 2024. We’ll go ahead and state it here as fact that if Jake leaves Flushing he’ll take half the fan base with him. You’ve been warned, Metropolitans.

James McCann and Robinson Cano (lol) are both under contract through 2024. Taijuan Walker has a player option for 2023. But outside of those guys, a whole lotta arbitration eligibility and open payroll are on the horizon.

In short, the Mets will have plenty of decisions to make, pretty much in perpetuity over the next few years, with regards to their future. One box that should be checked off in short order is Brandon Nimmo.

What the 28-year-old Wyoming product does for this offense is essentially act as the glue in the magnet (points if you catch the reference). We’ve seen it in the past. We’ve seen it as recently as this season.

Despite its short-lived nature, the Mets offense was noticeably rejuvenated upon Nimmo’s return from the injured list on July 3. Everyone was healthy, everyone was hitting, and the results were tremendous.

Through the end of the month, the Mets were one of the best offenses in MLB (.268/.345/.442, 119 wRC+, 5.3 fWAR; 3rd/4th/9th, 1st, 1st). The good times as a group didn’t last, but Nimmo barely slowed his pace.

Over 301 plate appearances from his return from the IL through the end of the season, Nimmo hit .280/.390/.417 with six homers, 11 doubles, three triples, and 129 wRC+.

Among MLB hitters with at least 350 plate appearances last year, Nimmo finished the season with the fifth-best on-base percentage (.401), his 137 wRC+ ranked 28th, and his 14% walk rate ranked 10th.

That’s always going to play. And, for the most part over the course of Nimmo’s career, it has. He’s the epitome of a catalyst… when he’s healthy.

Nimmo’s neck injury in 2019 put a severe crimp in his budding trajectory (missed 93 games). He hit the IL twice this season (left index finger, May; hamstring, September), playing in just 92 games (387 PA total).

Since 2017, he’s played in a total of 425 games (1,600+ PA; not enough to qualify). Among hitters with at least 1,500 PAs over that span, Nimmo’s .395 OBP ranks sixth and his 136 wRC+ is 18th.

Again, just an indisputable difference-maker. Just gotta keep him on the field. And his progress in the field has been just as admirable as his offensive contributions.

Having never posted a negative outs above average metric at any position before 2020 (-4 OAA in centerfield), Nimmo shook off his subpar performance (and a concerning dearth of outside confidence) to post +4 OAA in centerfield this season, good for 19th in MLB among 40 qualified CF.

Fourth-outfielder, our orange-and-blue rear-ends (hyphenation W!).

One would assume that the wrinkle Nimmo adds to this team on either side of the chalk would suit any roster the Mets’ front office puts together this winter well.

In order to secure that spark-pluggy advantage for years to come, the Mets would be prudent to explore a contract extension to buy out Nimmo’s remaining year of team control (free agent at the end of 2022) and keep the straw stirring the drink for a while.

We shall see.

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