Blue Jays: Why missing out on Brandon Nimmo is a blessing in disguise

Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo
Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays fans were probably disappointed when the news broke earlier this month that Brandon Nimmo had re-signed with the New York Mets. He was, after all, one of Toronto's rumored outfield targets.

Sure, at first blush, it seems like it could have been a great fit in Toronto. He would have filled their need for a left-handed bat and shored up the outfield defense. But there is reason to believe that missing out on signing Nimmo is a blessing in disguise for the Jays.

The contract is a large one. At eight years and $162M, it seems like an overpay for a player that has had just a single, semi-impressive career year.

Yes, the Jays are indeed spending more than in previous years. And for the first time the payroll will, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet points out, "exceed $200 million in 2023." But the Mets have been highly aggressive in the free agent market and offered Nimmo a deal well above the expected term and dollars.

Another reason to think that the Jays avoided a potential pitfall is his lack of consistency in staying on the field. Looking at his career stats on FanGraphs, it's hard not to notice the number of games he's missed over his career.

Here are his games played after his debut in 2016:
2017: 69
2018: 140
2019: 69
2020: 55
2021: 92
2022: 151

He has only surpassed the 100-game mark in two of his seven seasons in the majors. Even if you ignore his partial debut season and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he's only managed to play a full season twice in five years. Those numbers don't exactly inspire confidence when committing to an eight-year deal.

Nimmo is going into his age-30 season, so he'll be 37 when the contract finally wraps up in 2030...yes, 2030! While it's hard to predict how players will age, having another oft-injured and aging outfielder on the roster earning over $20M a year would be a tough pill to swallow.

Even if that salary is a steal by the end of the contract, playing the outfield is a young man's game. The odds are good that Nimmo would not be able to live up to the contract as he plays into the latter half of his 30s. And as Jon Heyman reported, Nimmo got a full no-trade clause in his deal with the Mets.

For reference, according to FanGraphs, in the last 10 seasons, only 11 outfielders aged 35 and older have suited up and played enough games to reach the at-bat qualification threshold. One of those players was beloved Jays legend José Bautista, and we know how rough his last couple of years were.

All-in-all, signing Nimmo would have been exciting, and Blue Jays fans could have breathed a sigh of relief that the team had addressed some immediate and glaring needs, but the shine could have worn off quickly and hurt the team in the long term.

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