ARLINGTON, Texas — The Mets really are going for it.
Free-agent centerfielder/leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo agreed to return on an eight-year, $162 million deal, sources said Thursday night. Once official, that will be the second-largest contract in franchise history.
They bolstered their bullpen, too, by bringing in righthander David Robertson on a one-year, $10 million pact, according to a person familiar with the terms.
That underscored — but did not necessarily punctuate — a productive week in which the Mets have added six players (so far) across the rotation, bullpen and outfield, sending their payroll shooting way past $300 million. It is poised to be by far the highest in major-league history.
“(Nimmo’s wife) Chelsea and I are extremely excited to continue this World Series pursuit with the Mets from top to bottom,” Nimmo said via text to Newsday. “That is the goal on everyone’s mind here in the organization. Steve (Cohen) and Billy (Eppler) made that apparent throughout the discussions.”
In the past four days, the Mets have committed about $290 million to Nimmo, Robertson, Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana and Brooks Raley. And there almost certainly will be more to come, since they remain on the hunt for another starting pitcher and still have a couple of openings in the bullpen.
The Mets had few attractive options other than to win the bidding on Nimmo, which his agent, Scott Boras, said this week was extensive. With a potential hole in center, and Nimmo by far the best centerfielder on the market, the Mets likely would have had to look into a trade to find in a replacement. But they have maintained their strong preference not to deal top prospects, inhibiting their ability there. They publicly discussed moving Starling Marte, 34 years old and coming off core muscle surgery, to center but it was not clear if that was a genuine consideration.
Hence, they decided to pay Nimmo an average of $20.25 per year through 2030, when he will be 37. That positions him to stay in a Mets uniform for his potentially his entire career, an extraordinary outcome for the team’s first-rounder in 2011.
He was the first draft pick of the Sandy Alderson era, a skinny kid selected out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is in such a baseball desert that the state does not sanction it as a high school sport. He played for an American Legion team instead.
In retaining Nimmo, the Mets solidify their outfield situation, setting it up to be the same as last season, barring further changes: Mark Canha in left, Nimmo in center and Marte in right. They also keep their leadoff batter with a career .385 OBP, Nimmo’s patient approach often serving a sparkplug in recent seasons.
Nimmo played in a career-high 151 games in 2022, just his second time reaching triple digits, and had a .274/.367/.433 slash line. He also improved in centerfield, erasing long-standing questions about his legitimacy there.
“He's a good player. He's established himself,” manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday at the winter meetings. “(Nimmo playing a full season) was good to see. So he answered some questions there. He's capable of it. What is he, 30? Brandon got better every year he played. He improved. And so somebody will get a good person and a good player.”
The only Mets contract larger than Nimmo’s is Francisco Lindor’s 10-year, $341 million deal.
Robertson, 38 next season, joins closer Edwin Diaz, lefthander Brooks Raley (acquired via trade with the Rays on Wednesday) and righthander Drew Smith in the bullpen. He had a 2.40 ERA last season, which he spent with the Cubs and Phillies, his first full campaign since 2018. The Mets discussed him with the Cubs prior to the trade deadline but deemed the prospect cost too high.
In addition to extensive experience as a closer/high-leverage reliever, Robertson checks a couple of other key boxes. He is a proven playoff pitcher (2.78 ERA in 41 career appearances) and knows how to play in New York (nine seasons across two stints with the Yankees, including when he replaced Mariano Rivera as closer in 2014).