It’s no secret that the Mets are high on Brandon Nimmo.
It was Sandy Alderson who drafted him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Wyoming — the highest a player from Wyoming had ever gone. It was that same Alderson that infamously cited Nimmo as a reason for not trading for Giancarlo Stanton. And it was also Alderson that reportedly declined a trade for Andrew McCutchen that would have sent Nimmo to the Pirates.
And perhaps this confidence is well founded: In 69 MLB games last season, Nimmo batted an impressive .260/.379/.418 with five home runs and 26 runs scored. He carried that success over into the spring, batting .306 in 62 at-bats. Nimmo has shown, at the very least, that he does have a fairly high ceiling.
Despite this, Nimmo has never had a true chance to be a regular MLB starter. For years, he’s been bogged down by a crowded Mets outfield that has included the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson in addition to being a late bloomer. And with Cespedes, Conforto, and Bruce lining up the outfield this season, it also might look like Nimmo is set to be a fourth outfielder.
Or, does it?
With Conforto out for at least the first few games of the season, Nimmo is going to get a good amount of playing time early on. And with Adrian Gonzalez off to a slow spring start, his future as the Mets’ regular first baseman could be in question in the coming weeks — at least if his slow start continues when the games start to count.
This could create an opening at first base, one that could potentially be filled by Bruce, who has some experience there. If this happens, an open spot in the outfield might be Nimmo’s for the taking.
And the Mets should seriously consider such a change if the opportunity presents itself.
It’s time to find out what Brandon Nimmo is truly capable of in an extended big league stay. The smiley outfielder has shown that he is able to succeed at the highest levels, and with a chance to do that regularly, he could provide the Mets’ lineup with an on-base guy capable of creating and scoring runs. For a team that finished just ninth in the NL in on-base percentage last season, such a preposition should be a welcoming one to the team.
Nimmo is also a versatile young player capable of playing all three outfield positions — something that few other Mets can do. Better yet, Nimmo has two full seasons before he hits arbitration, and won’t be a free agent until 2022. Knowing whether or not you have an asset in the 25-year-old would be helpful during arbitration years, to know if he’s a non-tender candidate or not.
After Nimmo’s solid spring, it looks like this could be the Mets’ best alternative to starting Adrian Gonzalez, someone who’s gotten off to a slow start and may very well have nothing left in the tank.
If Nimmo’s previous big-league experience serves as any indicator, it might be the Mets’ best alternative over the long run. It might remain to be seen as to whether he can produce at the MLB level over the course of a full season, but he deserves a shot.
Sandy Alderson’s confidence in Nimmo might finally have a chance to pay off in a big way for the Mets this year, and fans ought to hope it does.