The New York Mets are playing out the string in September, giving their young players plenty of time to show what they can do. One guy who has seized his opportunity to get regular playing time is outfielder Brandon Nimmo, the first draft pick of the Sandy Alderson era. Nimmo has been a slow developer, leading some to question the wisdom of the pick when Alderson could have had Jose Fernandez or Sonny Gray instead, both of whom went a few picks after Nimmo did at 13. It has taken Nimmo a while to get to the majors since he only played travel leagues in high school since his high school in Wyoming didn’t have a baseball team, but things are starting to come together for Nimmo now.
Things have gone very well for Nimmo in September, as he has hit .281 with three homers and 11 RBI’s, picking up 16 hits in 57 at bats. Nimmo has always drawn praise for his strong eye at the plate, which has led to a .434 on base percentage in September, but his upside has generally been seen as a fourth outfielder due to his lack of power. That power may be starting to improve a bit as Nimmo has picked up six extra base hits this month, including three doubles. No one is expecting Nimmo to be a 30 home run hitter any time soon, but he can definitely be a valuable role player on a winning team.
The issue for the Mets is that Nimmo is platoon limited, as he has hit only .167 (5 for 30) against lefties this season. That gives the Mets two platoon outfielders since Juan Lagares is the opposite of Nimmo, a guy who crushes lefties but can’t hit right handed pitching. Platooning the two of them could create a league average center fielder, but it would also occupy two roster spots when one could be used for a more multi-dimensional player. Another strike against Nimmo is that he isn’t a great defender like Lagares, but he is more than capable of holding his own.
While the Mets could decide to platoon Nimmo and Lagares to save a few bucks this winter, the uncertain nature of Michael Conforto’s status entering 2018 could lead them to acquire a natural center fielder over the winter. That would mean the Mets need to choose between Lagares and Nimmo now, with one staying and the other being shipped out in a trade this winter. Lagares is signed long term, with his salary set to begin jumping rather quickly after this season, but he could have significant value due to his all world defense. Nimmo costs a fraction of what Lagares does, but unlike him, still has room to develop as a player. This decision could prove to be tricky and influence how the Mets shape their outfield going forward.