Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo at the Boras Training Institute in...

Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo at the Boras Training Institute in Florida on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/Tim Healey

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Eleven weeks into MLB’s lockout, amid an undefined delay of spring training and developing threats to an on-time Opening Day, Brandon Nimmo’s routine looks a lot like what you might expect of a major-leaguer in mid-February. After waking early, he stretches, runs, hits, fields, throws and sometimes lifts, activities important to and vaguely resembling baseball.

But instead of doing so at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie, Nimmo is two hours south at the Boras Sports Training Institute, a state-of-the-art facility run by his new agent, Scott Boras, and nestled into the campus of St. Thomas University.

Instead of donning orange and blue, surrounded by dozens of others wearing nearly identical outfits, he works out with a growing group of players from other teams, in nondescript athleisure and a ballcap with an unmistakable "B" logo for Boras Corp. plastered across the front.

This arrangement is temporary but indefinite. They’re doing their best to pretend and prepare until they get the real thing, whenever that is, and for Nimmo, the mere thought of that eventuality elicits downright glee, labor-relations consternation be damned.

"It’s an exciting time," he said Thursday after his usual regimen, "to be a Met."

And Nimmo wants to be in the middle of it — literally.

In the Mets’ new-look outfield, which will include Starling Marte and Mark Canha, Nimmo hopes to play centerfield. He maintains a whatever-the-team-needs approach because he is a good worker, even when he isn’t allowed to work for his employer. But his strong preference is to man the position he played — and played well — last year.

 

The pre-lockout chaos in which the Mets hired Billy Eppler as general manager and signed Marte, Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Max Scherzer in quick succession meant that Nimmo never spoke to team officials before the communication ban took effect. So he doesn’t know their plans for him after the addition of Marte, who has been a centerfielder in recent years and got a four-year, $78 million deal from the Mets.

But a variety of modern defensive metrics, from Defensive Runs Saved to Outs Above Average to Ultimate Zone Rating, favor Nimmo over Marte, sometimes by significant margins. He is younger and faster, and he made great gains last year with improved speed and positioning.

"It proved that, hey, if you give me information, if you allow me to make the adjustments, I will give it everything I got," Nimmo said. "I was very, very proud of the difference in the numbers from ’20 to ’21 and doing what they asked me to do and improving there."

Eppler said on Dec. 1, when introducing Marte hours before commissioner Rob Manfred enacted the lockout, that the Mets hadn’t decided who will play center. Marte, for his part, said he will "play whatever position they need me to play." And Nimmo added that "I do know we will cover some ground" no matter their alignment.

Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo at the Boras Training Institute in Florida...

Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo at the Boras Training Institute in Florida on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/Tim Healey

"I’ve always said this: If I’m not playing centerfield, then someone really, really good must be there," Nimmo said. "And that will mean we have a good outfield."

And, naturally, centerfielders get paid more.

"Hey, that’s true," he said with a laugh. "You do think about that. But the good part is, last year I kind of solidified that I can play centerfield. If you need a centerfielder, I can be that guy."

That money piece is more relevant to Nimmo now because he is scheduled to be a free agent for the first time after the 2022 season. He didn’t have any contract talks with the Mets before the lockout but remains open to discussing an extension when business resumes.

In January, he hired Boras to represent him. After previously working with CAA, Nimmo opted for change after Michael Conforto, a longtime Boras client and one of Nimmo’s best friends, "mentioned hearing [Boras] out," Nimmo said.

Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo continues his preparation for the expected 2022 baseball season with some weight-lifting and batting practice at a training facility in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Video courtesy Brandon Nimmo).

"We liked what he had to say," he continued. "We made a decision as a family that we felt like it was the best business decision for us."

Among the perks of being a Boras client is getting access to this facility and its staff, including ex-player Alex Ochoa, who was with the Mets from 1995-97. Usually a Port St. Lucie resident in the offseason, Nimmo worked out locally into the New Year before deciding he needed something more thorough. At BSTI, he has access to everything from sports scientists to a lefthanded batting-practice thrower to nearby physical therapists.

Because of a couple of freak injuries and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Nimmo hasn’t played a full season since 2018. He is aware of that reality and the attached perception, as well as the need to change it this year, the most important of his career — and potentially a very entertaining one for the Mets, too, after their spending spree.

"You go through some tough years where maybe we didn’t reach the expectations that we were hoping for. But I really have a lot of confidence in where we’re heading now," Nimmo said. "[The free-agent binge] was really exciting, because I think it just showed how serious we were about competing.

"That was a spot that could have easily been explained as just punting this next year and being like, ‘We’ll try again in a year or two or whatever.’ They made it clear: We’re coming after it this year. And I’m excited to be a part of that."