Rays interested in Brandon Nimmo
In a thin market in center field aid, Brandon Nimmo has naturally sparked a lot of interest in the free agent market. Many of baseball’s biggest spenders have been linked to the former Mets standout, but according to Jon Heyman of the New York Postthe low-payroll Rays are also a pretty surprising suitor for Nimmo’s services.
MLBTR projected Nimmo to a five-year, $110 million deal this winter, which would represent by far the largest contract the Rays have given even a free agent. It would also represent the franchise’s second-highest spending on any contract, behind only him Strike Franco11-year, $182 million extension. Because Nimmo declined the Mets’ qualifying offer, Tampa Bay would also have to give up its third-highest pick in the 2023 draft as compensation for signing the outfielder, no small penalty for a club that depends on building from the inside
In short, it would count as a real surprise if the Rays won the bidding for one of the most sought-after free agents of the winter. However, it’s worth noting that we’re only about a year removed from the Rays. reported offer to Freddie Freeman, another big value name on the open market. Between Freeman’s offer and Franco’s extension, there have been some indications from Tampa Bay that the Rays are ready to stretch their budget (by their standards) in order to capture that elusive championship. The Rays have reached the postseason in each of the past four years and are all the way to the World Series in 2020, but fell short to the Dodgers in six games.
Assuming Nimmo signs for about $22 million worth of average annual value, this deal would take Tampa Bay’s payroll into a new stratosphere, even though the team has already broken some of its own financial benchmarks. Seconds Cot Baseball Contractsthe Rays’ Opening Day payroll in 2022 fell short of $83.9 million, a new club record. List resource projects Tampa for a 2023 payroll of roughly $67.7 million, and that number includes the projected salaries of a still-large class of arbitration-eligible players.
The Rays have already parted ways with some arb eligibles (ie Ji-Man Choi, Ryan Yarbrough) to save a few bucks, and other creative trades could still be possible to further reduce payroll. Tampa could continue to shop more members of its arbitration class, or the team could look to move players on guaranteed contracts. Franco is not going anywhere, but anyone Manuel Margot, Brooks Raley, Tyler Glasnowor even Brandon Lowe they could be plausible trade tokens.
Moving an established player to bring in a more expensive player like Nimmo would be an uncharacteristic move for the Rays, but it might make sense in this circumstance. Nimmo would essentially be Margot’s replacement in the outfield, and Raley or Glasnow could be replaced by one of the many young arms in Tampa’s seemingly endless pitching pipeline. The Rays already did well without Lowe for much of the 2022 season, as Lowe played in just 65 games due to ongoing back issues. If Lowe were to be traded, the Rays could rely on some combination of Taylor Walls, Isaac Walls, Jonathan Arandaor Vidal Brujan at second base, as they did last season. Also, the best perspective Curtis Mead is waiting in the wings for his Major League debut.
The Rays relied on their pitching and defense to win 86 games and claim a Wild Card berth last season, but Nimmo’s bat would greatly help a lackluster offense. Nimmo hit .274/.367/.433 with 16 home runs in 673 plate appearances last season, which translated to a 134 wRC+ and 5.4 fWAR. No Rays position player in 2022 had a higher fWAR than Yandy DiazThe 3.8 number, and only Diaz (146) had a better wRC+. Nimmo hitting left-handed even helps from a lineup balance perspective, as Tampa’s lineup is mostly right-handed.
It can be argued that if the Rays were to deal with a player, it should be for someone without Nimmo’s injury history. There’s a certain irony in Tampa Bay chasing an equally oft-injured center fielder Kevin Kiermaier he is finally off the team’s books. Kiermaier’s six-year, $53.5 million extension was also one of the largest deals in Rays history, and while Kiermaier was rarely in Nimmo’s league as a hitter, Kiermaier was one of the best fielders in the league at any position when he was healthy enough to remain. in the countryside. Public metrics are a bit more mixed on Nimmo’s work in center field, though Tampa could use him at any of the three outfield positions, as Jose Siri is available to play in the center.
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