MILWAUKEE — As baseball approaches its tensest, most critical point in labor relations in a generation, coinciding with what is poised to be an offseason of immense change for the Mets, Brandon Nimmo is positioned to take on a more active leadership role — one for which he is well prepared, according to Michael Conforto.
"They’ll be in great hands," Conforto said, "with Nimmo."
The reason for the potential change: Conforto is the Mets’ union representative. Nimmo is the alternate rep. If Conforto’s free agency unfolds in a normal way — i.e., lasting months instead of days — Nimmo would assume that greater responsibility.
Typically, being the union rep is a low-workload role. In the coming months, not so much. As MLB and the MLB Players Association negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement — a process that has many within baseball girding themselves for what might be a long, stressful winter — Nimmo and the other reps are the go-betweens for the union and their teammates.
Nimmo’s primary job will be to keep other Mets players in the loop on CBA talks, note their opinions and make their collective voice heard when MLBPA leaders vote on any variety of topics. That cycle might well repeat itself many times over.
The process is basically the same as the one the sport endured when it was figuring out how to stage the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, Conforto said Nimmo has been about as involved as him, so the transition should be easy.
"Everything that happens here affects myself and the next generation coming up," Nimmo said. "I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of the fruits of the labor of generations before me. So I want to try to leave things better than where I received them. So that’s the way I see it. And the way to do that is to be involved."
Nimmo won’t be alone. Conforto, who has been the Mets’ rep since Matt Harvey was traded in 2018, plans to participate still, even if it isn’t specifically through the Mets. And Francisco Lindor is on the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee.
"Extremely involved," Nimmo said.
Nimmo, 28, is only a year away from free agency. He said he is open to a contract extension with the Mets, though the sides have not had any discussions.
"I hope it’s not foreign knowledge to the team that this is the team that I grew up on, this is all I know and I’ve enjoyed being here," he said. "So I have no problem with staying long-term. But that’s a two-way decision and they have to feel the same way."
The case for keeping Nimmo long-term is an easy one. He is elite at getting on base — with a .400 OBP since the start of 2018 — and has improved enough in centerfield that there are fewer questions than ever about his place there. Working against him: Injuries have cost Nimmo large chunks of the season in two out of the past three years.
He realizes that with all the Mets have to do this offseason — starting with finding a president of baseball operations and including whether to re-sign Conforto — broaching his contract status is not at the top of the organization’s priorities list. Extension negotiations usually happen late in the offseason or spring training.
But if the Mets want to talk, Nimmo is ready and willing to listen.
"Of course, of course. I’m definitely open to extension talks," he said. "Nothing has come my way. None of that has been talked about . . . If those talks come about, I’ll definitely be open to it."