Mets ink Brandon Nimmo and David Robertson
The Mets aren’t fucking around!
If you know me, you know I don’t swear often, but there are no other words to properly describe this team right now.
Entering an offseason in which they already had over $200 million committed to the 2023 payroll, Steve Cohen has authorized the signing of a $100-million closer, an $86-million starting pitcher, and now a $162-million outfielder, among other signings and indications that they aren’t done spending yet.
In his introductory press conference, Jacob deGrom told reporters he signed with the Rangers because their “vision of winning a World Series” aligned with his own goals.
Yeah… let us know how that works out for you.
Last night, as I was watching the Leafs beat up the LA Kings in Toronto, news broke the Mets had signed Brandon Nimmo to an 8-year, $162 million deal. And as quick as the passing of a power play, we learned they had also signed David Robertson on a 1-year, $10 million deal.
The winter after a majority of owners shutdown the sport to try to prevent a few from spending recklessly, Steve Cohen is throwing the baseball version of the Boston Tea Party, defying all tax penalties and throwing convention overboard to revolutionize the way a baseball team constructs a roster.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am spending a long weekend in Toronto. When I got off the plane yesterday, I fully expected to turn on my phone and learn Nimmo had signed with the Blue Jays. That’s how an obsessive fan’s mind thinks. Somehow things happen just to spite us, we believe. Not this time!
Thanks again to everyone who joined our subscriber chat last night. The energy was amazing. Make sure you download the Substack app so you can more easily read the newsletter, add comments and participate in subscriber chats.
And before I get into the newsletter, a giant shoutout to my wife: first, I drag her to Toronto in December to see the Leafs play. Then I spend the first day distracted and writing about the Mets. It turns out your subscriptions are really contributions towards my future alimony payments.
Brandon Nimmo is back where he belongs. What does this mean?
I will start off the field. And this isn’t Nimmo’s fault, but the ability to sign him to a massive deal that will balloon the club’s payroll north of $330 million is another sign the Mets have become the Big Bad Mets.
Every argument you used to make against Joey from the Bronx about the Yankees’ free-spending ways and how they are the Evil Empire… Guess what, they’re coming right back at you.
The Mets could win 110 games, but if they lose in the playoffs, it’s a failure. In fact, any exit short of a championship is a failure. And if they somehow win the World Series, everyone will say they bought it.
These are things Mets fans shouldn’t care about. At least not today. But as we adjust to this new normal under Steve Cohen, the personality we have always attached to being a Mets fan is now gone. You trade that for a winning baseball team any day of the week. Just be ready for it. These are no longer the “lovable Mets.”
🍎 All of that being said, I will now make the argument of why the front office is making a prudent and calculated decision in re-signing Nimmo.
Paying Nimmo means the Mets keep a homegrown star and the best smile in baseball in the organization. This matters. It’s what some people would call culture. It’s how you develop an identity and a common thread for a club destined to sign and acquire several different players over the coming years.
On the field, paying Nimmo means Starling Marte can stay in right field, and Mark Canha in left. It means the team can be creative in finding another corner outfielder, if they decide to use Canha as a trade piece. And come May or June, when Nimmo tweaks his hamstring and is forced to miss a few weeks of time, as he inevitably will, it will still be ok. Because 120 games of Nimmo is better than 162 games of a center field combination led by someone like Kevin Kiermair.
In the lineup, paying Nimmo means the team preserves an on-base machine at the top of the order. Only five players have a higher on-base percentage than Brandon Nimmo over the past three years. Those players are Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt.
Perhaps most importantly, paying Nimmo means the front office can remain committed to the farm system. Joel Sherman reports that before bringing Nimmo back, the Mets were talking to the Diamondbacks about trading Brett Baty for Alex Thomas. Now, Thomas is a promising young outfielder. But Baty could be the third baseman of the future. By spending money in free agency, the Mets are actually investing in the players they have spent time developing, like Baty, or Nimmo, himself.
As for Nimmo’s new contract, eight years might sound like a long time for a center fielder turning 30 in March, but it allows New York to effectively spread the average annual value of the deal to reduce the tax burden in each season. As salaries continue to rise over time, it also makes the back-end of the deal relatively cheaper than it is today.
In David Robertson, the Mets get a veteran set-up man for a bullpen in transition in front of Edwin Díaz. By adding Brooks Raley and Robertson, general manager Billy Eppler is making sure he isn’t caught in the same position he was last season at the trade deadline when he had a gun to his head to trade prospects for relief help and he ended up shooting himself in the foot.
A slew of injuries and Tommy John surgery kept Robertson off the mound for much of 2019 and 2021 and all of the 2020 pandemic season, but he has otherwise been a model of consistency. The 37-year-old has made at least 60 appearances in 10 of his past 12 campaigns (excluding the 2020 season when he didn’t pitch at all).
Last year, pitching for both the Cubs and Phillies, he struck out nearly 1/3 of the batters he faced, resulting in a 2.40 ERA. After being acquired by Philadelphia at the deadline, he helped them reach the tournament and make a magical run to the World Series with a 1.17 ERA in eight playoff appearances. This, after he tweaked his calf celebrating one of Bryce Harper’s postseason home runs.
The biggest concern with Robertson is his command, which you wouldn’t expect to be a problem for a successful, high-leverage reliever. But his walk rate remained inflated last season, jumping to 16.2% during his time with the Phillies. Something to investigate in a future deep dive.
🔻 BOTTOM LINE: The Mets have seemingly learned their lesson from prior seasons. Don’t wait around for the reliever market to develop. Go get the guys you want early. With Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Trevor Williams, Joely Rodríguez and Trevor May all free agents, they have a lot of holes to fill in the bullpen. They are off to a strong start with left-hander Brooks Raley and veteran righty David Robertson.
A few other notes from yesterday…
💰 KEEP SPENDING: The Mets have been heavily linked to Japanease starter Kodai Senga over the past few weeks. Michael Mayer of MetsMerized Online reports Senga is “still in play” even after the signings of Nimmo and Robertson.
💸 OHTANI WATCH: In a survey by The Athletic of MLB agents, 10 of 18 believe the Mets will sign Shohei Ohtani in 2024.
💔 FINAL GOODBYE: Wearing a funky looking uniform, Jacob deGrom told reporters, “there will always be a special place in my heart for the New York Mets and their fans.”
🔗 Mets could approach $400 million payroll with Steve Cohen’s crazy spending spree, by Joel Sherman, NY Post: “In Cohen’s world, it makes no sense to spend and still be lacking. Not when he has the money to cover the cost and the hunger for his team to be championship relevant today.”
🔗 Why a pitcher like Kodai Senga or Chris Bassitt is a need for big-spending Mets, by Will Sammon, The Athletic ($): “An owner worth multiple billions like Cohen can afford to eat the salary on a mistake, but if the Mets add Senga and he ends up being a dud, it would still be a regrettable move in the sense that they could’ve just turned to someone else like Bassitt, New York’s most dependable regular-season starter last year. With Senga, there’d still be plenty riding on being right about the evaluation.”
🎬 Before we go, a shameless plug. You haven’t seen Blake contribute as much to the newsletter over the past year, and that’s because he’s been busy making a movie about student debt. It airs Sunday at 10pm EST on MSNBC. Make sure you check it out. Now that the movie is done, he will be writing more regularly for the 2023 season.
Thanks for reading! Follow us on Twitter for regular updates until our next newsletter.