PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Newly solidified as a primary piece of the Mets’ long-term core, Brandon Nimmo now has a simple goal: Keep doing everything that got him this far, with one fun exception.
He “splurged,” he said, and bought himself a new car after signing an eight-year, $162 million contract with the Mets in December. So while he still owns that 2010 Nissan Altima — which he drove for the first decade-plus of his professional career, even as his salary climbed — it won’t be rolling through the players’ lot this spring training.
Instead, Nimmo has an Audi RS Q8, a fancy and expensive SUV. That was his little treat to himself after earning the payday of a lifetime.
“I’m pretty proud of it,” he said Monday. “It’s fun to drive. It’s got a lot of horses under the hood, but I’ll make sure to be nice and safe with it.”
Nimmo otherwise aspires to be the same ol’ Nimmo. He’ll still smile. He’ll still sprint to first base after walking or getting hit by a pitch. He probably still will not steal too often despite being the fastest player on the team. He’ll still work hard, get on base and maintain his intense routine of physical upkeep, which is what he believes allowed him to finally stay on the field last season.
And he can do so knowing with certainty that he is here to stay. Throughout his career, every new spring training brought with it a new question for Nimmo, from his major-league staying power to his defensive position to his contractual future. But all that stress is gone, all the questions answered, with the second-largest contract in Mets history.
“There’s definitely a weight off the shoulders,” said Nimmo, who has been working out at the spring training facility at least five days per week since re-signing. “You don’t have to do the business of baseball anymore and you just get to focus on playing the game. For me, that definitely is a relief. And then I get to just focus on winning and what’s best for the team and you don’t have to worry about this or that or how many walks you had. It’s just about winning the game and that’s it. You win or you lose, and that’s how you measure your success.”
That also is why Nimmo passed on participating in the World Baseball Classic. After going through free agency, he considered suiting up for the Mike Piazza-managed Italy squad, as he did in 2017. But he decided it wasn’t worth the risk, particularly considering the Mets’ expectations.
Italy playing the first round in Taiwan made the logistics intimidating and ultimately prohibitive, Nimmo said. Hanging in the back of his mind — in the overall positive experience last time around — was the memory of pulling his right hamstring, an injury that cost him the first month or so of the regular season. And being physically prepared to play bigger-than-usual games in early March would have been difficult.
“And I’m hoping that we’re playing well after this regular season ends,” Nimmo said. “I’m hoping on adding a month to a month and a half of a season after this. We just felt like it was best for the team if I did not [play in the WBC] . . . For what we’re trying to accomplish in winning a World Series, we felt it was counterproductive.”
Instead, he’ll drive his new wheels around Port St. Lucie. Nimmo is keeping the Altima — a gift from his parents after he earned a full scholarship to a college he never attended because he joined the Mets instead — because “she’s worth more to me than probably anyone else nostalgia-wise,” he said. He plans to “take her into the shop” and “get her all cleaned up” soon.
“Maybe I’ll take her up to New York,” Nimmo said, “and drive her into Opening Day for old time’s sake.”