MLB Free Agency: 5 potential landing spots for Brandon Nimmo
If Brandon Nimmo sprinting to first base after walks annoys you, watching New York Mets games the past three seasons probably hasn't been very enjoyable.
Since the start of the 2020 season, Nimmo's 12.3% walk percentage is 15th among all players. Over that same three-season period, Nimmo has posted a .384 on-base percentage, a mark that trails only Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt.
On top of being an excellent table-setter at the top of the lineup, Nimmo has nine outs above average in center field over the past two seasons. It should be noted that defensive runs saved wasn't as high on Nimmo in 2022, as he posted -3 this past season. But with so few impact offensive players at the position, Nimmo could probably get away with being an average-to-slightly-below-average fielder if he continues to be an on-base machine. And from here, Nimmo is a much better defender than DRS would lead you to believe, a reminder that while defensive metrics are a useful tool, they still have a long way to go before they are as trustworthy as other advanced statistics.
Obviously, all 30 teams need a center fielder, and probably less than half the league is in a good place at the position. So while Nimmo has an injury history and it's fair to wonder how much his value would drop if he eventually has to become a corner outfielder, he should make out well in his first trip to free agency. In fact, MLB Trade Rumors has projected that Nimmo will land a five-year/$110 million deal.
Set to turn 30 in late March, here are five potential landing spots for Nimmo in free agency:
New York Mets
A major reason that the Mets won 101 games in 2022 was that their lineup featured so many pesky hitters that worked the count and put the ball in play. Nimmo was at the forefront of that, as he once again saw over four pitches per plate appearance in 2022. What's more, Nimmo is a clubhouse leader and has repeatedly expressed a desire to remain with the Mets, who selected him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. But the Mets have already signed Edwin Díaz to a lucrative contract, and in addition to Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and Adam Ottavino are all free agents as well. If there's a team willing to go to six years for Nimmo, will the Mets match the deal or pivot in another direction?
Toronto Blue Jays
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported earlier this month that the Blue Jays have interested in Nimmo. The trade of Teoscar Hernández to the Seattle Mariners opened the door for George Springer to be moved to right field, and Nimmo to slide into center. In a lineup with the aforementioned Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk, Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Nimmo would also give the Blue Jays an impact offensive player that hits left-handed.
As MLB.com's Mark Feinsand noted, center field is arguably the biggest need for the Rockies. Enter Nimmo, who grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming -- about 100 miles from Coors Field. The Rockies have a long way to go in terms of being able to compete in the National League West, and signing Nimmo would be a good place to start.
Tampa Bay Rays
Franchise stalwart Kevin Kiermaier is a free agent, so the Rays have a vacancy in center field for the first time in quite a while. According to Jon Heyman of The New York Post, Erik Neander and the Rays are interested in Nimmo, as they look to keep pace in a division with four other potential contenders. Signing Cody Bellinger to a one-year, prove-it deal seems to be more of a Rays-esque move than going to five or six years at a high average annual value for Nimmo. But there's no doubt Nimmo would be an excellent fit from a baseball sense.
San Francisco Giants
The most overused nugget so far this offseason is that the Giants finished dead last with -52 defensive runs saved in 2022. There's only so much that Farhan Zaidi and the Giants can do to fix their defense in one offseason, but Nimmo could slide into center field and push Mike Yastrzemski to a corner outfield spot, potentially allowing them to upgrade at two positions. In a spacious Oracle Park, perhaps the Giants would even consider signing Nimmo to play right field. But it's fair to wonder if they would be willing to bid as much as teams who view him as a center field would, in that scenario.