Earlier this offseason, when the Mets leaked to the press that they were interested in Trea Turner as a potential replacement for Brandon Nimmo, debates ensued about which player the Mets would be better off going after. While the allure of adding Turner, one of the sport’s most exciting players, to the Mets lineup was certainly attractive to me, and not a move I would’ve been upset about at all, I found myself rooting more for a Nimmo return regardless of who the better on-paper signing actually was.
That’s not a position I expected to take. I’ve always liked Nimmo, but he was never really among my favorites, either. Turner, meanwhile, is a better overall player and offers a style of play that fits more with my preferred aesthetic: fewer walks exchanged for a higher average, more steals, and more home run power. But Nimmo had one key attribute that Turner didn’t that put him over the top for me: he was a Met.
Nimmo was homegrown. He drafted as a Met, came up a Met, and has been a staple of the Mets lineup over the past several years, and locking him up to a long-term deal meant making him a Met for life, or close to it. As dynamic of a player as Turner is, he would’ve never had that distinction. There’s an immeasurable, but unmistakable value to that, and it’s one I’ve grown to appreciate more as I get older and witness the names on the back of the jerseys come and go with growing frequency.
The fact that there aren’t too many career Mets in the team’s lackluster history—or even guys who stuck around here for 10+ years, as Vas Drimatilis demonstrated earlier today—probably intensifies that feeling for me as well. It gets even worse when you consider most of the players named in Vas’s piece are from decades ago, so the lineage is even more dire if you narrow it to the last 20 years or so. Besides David Wright, the only other Mets to spend parts of 10 or more seasons with the Mets over the last two decades are José Reyes and Jeurys Familia, neither of whom inspire good feelings for a variety of reasons.
This is almost entirely the product of past ownership, of course. We know that the Wilpons essentially viewed things like “paying players” and “treating your employees with respect” as inconveniences, frequently pushing players away through cheapness and weird, petty grievances. As such, the past few decades of Mets history are filled with players escaping this place for greener pastures once they hit the open market.
Meanwhile, we’ve watched as other teams locked up their homegrown talent for years, turning those players into franchise mainstays. From the Yankees keeping the “Core Four” around for all or most of their careers—and even never letting more complementary players like Bernie Williams and Brett Gardner wear other jerseys—to the Cardinals becoming synonymous with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, and even the Giants keeping Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Buster Posey around as long as they could, other teams always seemed able to keep their recognizable faces around; they always seemed to have Their Guys. And I grew more and more jealous as the years went on.
One of the most foundational parts of being a sports fan is the connection you build with a player from following them over time. Having to repeatedly let go of those connections as players depart and get replaced by guys who you’re not as familiar with and might only be here for a few years does get taxing, and it takes a little something away from following the team. There is more of an emotional investment with players you’ve been following for years. They don’t even have to be true stars for the fanbase to connect with them in a meaningful way; just be a recognizable face and be productive on the field.
While I’m obviously ecstatic at all the big signings the Mets have made over the last few years and welcome any and all future additions, the Mets have become increasingly unrecognizable in recent seasons as they make these signings to paper over the mess left by the Wilpons. Just look at the roster from 2020 and observe how much turnover has occurred throughout the 40-man roster in just the last two years.
If Nimmo departed like so many others have, he would’ve been a missed opportunity to buck that trend. He would’ve been just another Mets star who bolted the first chance they got, and especially after Jacob deGrom just left for Texas, I didn’t want to see that happen again. I wanted to finally see another non-Wright Mets player actually stick around here for a while.
And luckily, he stayed. Nimmo and the Mets inked an eight-year deal, keeping the outfielder in Flushing until after his age-37 season. Even if the contract ages poorly and the Mets have to cut or trade Nimmo towards the end of it and he does wind up donning another uniform one day, it’ll be after he has firmly left his stamp on this era of Mets baseball.
Having the homegrown Nimmo around for whatever comes of these next few seasons will make it a little more special, even as the roster churn around him continues. And that’s the intangible value of having players actually stay; they serve as a connective tissue from season-to-season and across different eras of the team. You can grow up or grow older with them. They become synonymous with your team like the Molinas, Poseys, and Judges have with theirs. You can rely on their presence every year, and that even as they age and their performance may decline, they will always, unquestionably, Be There. I know now that there’s a good chance in 2026 I‘ll be able to turn on a Mets game and see Nimmo annoying opponents and running around the bases with that dumb smile like baseball’s Dani Rojas. Just like I did in 2016. Just like I did in 2020. Just like I did this year.
Nimmo might never be good enough to get his number retired or be the next player to go into the Hall of Fame with NY (NL) on his cap, but now he gets a chance to go into the Mets Hall of Fame, at least, and he’ll probably continue being a figure around the team long after his retirement. That’s worth something. Nimmo can now forever be one of Our Guys.