This week, news broke that the Mets declined an offer to send Brandon Nimmo to the Pirates straight-up for Andrew McCutchen. Many fans were disappointed — even angry — to hear this. How could the Mets pass on a former MVP because of Brandon Nimmo?
While this may sound ridiculous on the surface of things, and while McCutchen would have definitely helped the Mets in the short term, it looks like Sandy Alderson made the right move over the long haul to pass on this offer. Consider this:
It’s important to note that McCutchen has not produced at superstar levels over the last two seasons. He batted just .256/.336/.430 with a 104 OPS+ in 2016 and while he bounced back in 2017, he still only batted .279/.363/.486 with a 121 OPS+. That would be a career year for many players, but it’s far off the .313/.404/.523 and 157 OPS+ pace McCutchen had from 2012-15. The MVP days may be behind McCutchen.
Also, when was the last time the Mets had good luck bringing on an ex-superstar guy like McCutchen? Had the Mets done this trade — based purely on the Mets’ luck — there’s a solid chance McCutchen would be DFA’ed by August and Nimmo would become the next Roberto Clemente.
Then there are the realities of what the Mets are willing to spend. McCutchen is only under contract for this season, after which he will likely receive a nine-figure deal in free agency. The odds of the Mets signing McCutchen to a long-term extension, are, not particularly likely to say the least. A McCutchen-Mets partnership would have almost definitely been a one-and-done deal.
Which means that over the long run, Nimmo would likely offer the Mets more than one year of McCutchen. That may sound crazy now, but consider this: Nimmo posted a 0.9 bWAR in 215 plate appearances last season. If you triple that to reflect a full season, Nimmo’s bWAR is 2.7. That’s actually higher than McCutchen’s 2.5 mark from 2017.
And when you consider that Nimmo is under team control through 2022, there’s a solid chance he offers the Mets a larger cumulative output than McCutchen would have in one season. Nimmo has quietly been very promising over his two partial big-league seasons, batting .264/.367/.392 over 295 plate appearances. And coming into his age-25 season, he has plenty of potential to add to that.
It should also go without saying that since Nimmo was too large a price to pay for McCutchen, he’s way too large a price to pay for Josh Harrison. Harrison would be a fantastic fit for the Mets, but the team should look elsewhere in terms of prospects. Because Nimmo is showing he has a place on the Mets’ roster in the future.
So while Sandy Alderson’s love for Nimmo may sound (and maybe) a little irrational at times, there may be a method to his madness.