Two of the more prominent names to come out of the early offseason discussions for the Mets are old friend Brandon Nimmo and old rival Trea Turner. Both of these players are free agents, both have appeal to the Mets, but neither is a perfect fit for the team. They are also more similar than appear at first blush and, while it would be great to see the Mets sign both players, with the need to rebuild the rotation and bullpen, it seems unlikely that both wind up in Queens.
Nimmo is a known quantity in New York, having played his entire professional career in the Mets organization. He’s an example of the Mets getting it right at the draft, picking a player from an unorthodox background (the now famous ‘there wasn’t a baseball team at Nimmo’s high school’ story), and developing him into something special. Nimmo had been doubted as a center fielder for most of his career, but over the last two season, from a combination of physical conditioning and better analytics implementation, Nimmo turned himself into a competent, nay, cromulent, center fielder for the Mets.
But looking at Nimmo’s 2022 as a bellwether for the rest of his career is optimistic at best. This past season was his second best of his career, with a career high in games played, hits, runs, and doubles. 2022 marked only the second time that Nimmo played in more than 100 games, which is the biggest red flag for signing the soon-to-be 30 year old to a longterm deal. Eliminating 2020’s shortened season and his rookie year, Nimmo has averaged 104.2 games per season over his five ‘full’ years, but all but two of those have been shorten substantially by injuries.
Trea Turner, on the other hand, has been a much more consistent on-field presence over the course of his career. Unlike Nimmo’s injuries, the only time Turner has missed significant time once a full-time player was in 2017 when a fastball from Pedro Strop broke his wrist. Since 2018, again removing 2020’s shortened year, Turner has averaged 148 games a season, and done so playing a premium position.
Turner has also been a better offensive player than Nimmo by just about every metric, aside from on-base percentage. While Nimmo has had breakout seasons, Turner’s career is remarkably consistent, and he would provide a top-level bat to a team that, at times, struggled to score runs last season.
On the topic of that position, the Mets have Francisco Lindor lined up at shortstop for the foreseeable future, so Turner would have to move positions to be a fit for the Mets. Turner seems like a logical fit at second base, but also has experience playing center field early in his career, and could be an option if Nimmo doesn’t re-sign with the club. But the idea of Turner signing to play center field seems unlikely, and so we need to be looking at him as the every day second baseman.
The issue here is a fit one; there are not many center fielders on the market, and the Mets don’t have many internal options for center field, aside from Starling Marte, who is coming off of surgery and is going into his age 34 season. For second base, the Mets have the 2022 Silver Slugger Jeff McNeil, the leather-first utility man Luis Guillorme, and last year’s thirdbase mainstay Eduardo Escobar as options at second.
Thankfully, all of those players are versatile and can find playing of playing time around the diamond, especially if Marte moves to center field, which would allow McNeil to slide into a corner spot. The Mets would need to acquire a fourth outfielder to be the backup CF as protection for a Marte injury, because if Turner isn’t open to it, Mark Canha at center for any length of time seems like a mistake.
So the question is this: would the risk of Nimmo remaining healthy and productive at center field be a better gamble than inserting Turner’s bat, but throwing the defensive alignment off? Both players wound undoubtedly help the Mets, and we’d love the Mets to find a way to assemble a roster that included both. But if there’s only going to be one of them in Queens, which would you rather see?
If they can only pursue one, should the Mets be going after Brandon Nimmo or Trea Turner?
This poll is closed
Nimmo is one of ours, bring him home.
Trea Turner looks like Peter Parker. Peter Parker is from Queens. Do the math.