NEW YORK (AP)Dressed in a green elf suit and cap, Brandon Nimmo gushed about remaining with the New York Mets and starring at their kids holiday party. Owner Steve Cohen’s aggressive spending persuaded him to stay put.
”He’s made very clear that he wants to win and he wants to win now, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get to that point,” Nimmo said Thursday after a Citi Field news conference to discuss his $162 million, eight-year contract. ”I think actions speak louder than words and his actions have definitely backed that up. So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say that it’s been different atmosphere around here.”
Seeking its first World Series title since 1986, New York is headed to a record a $350 million luxury tax payroll next year in its third season since Cohen bought the team. The Mets went on a $461.7 million spending spree, adding starters Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana, retaining closer Edwin Diaz, acquiring lefty reliever Brooks Raley in a trade, signing reliever David Robertson and reaching an agreement with Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga that is pending a physical.
New York’s moves offset the losses of Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassitt in free agency.
”Our game needs Goliaths. We have to have Goliaths,” said Nimmo’s agent, Scott Boras. ”You can envision Steve Cohen hanging on to the Empire State Building. It’s maybe not Steve Cohen, it’s maybe Steve Kong.”
Cohen’s wife, Alex, sat in the front row as Nimmo, general manager Billy Eppler and manager Buck Showalter spoke. Alex Cohen assisted in handing out gifts at the party along with designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach; Nimmo’s wife, Chelsea; and the manager’s wife, Angela.
A hedge fund billionaire, Cohen bought the Mets from the Wilpon and the Katz families ahead of the 2021 season and boosted payroll this year to baseball’s highest for the first time since 1989. They are shattering spending records heading into 2023, when New York is poised to incur a record luxury tax penalty of about $80 million.
”He doesn’t quiver,” Showalter said. ”He understands the responsibility to our fan base and the expectations that he’s trying to make everybody feel, including the fans.”
Showalter said Cohen wants people to approach nearly everything as ”that’s not good enough.”
”He wants to be best in class at everything, whether it be a children’s Christmas party or the batting cage in St Lucie,” Showalter said. ”It’s all relevant and it’s something the players rally around.”
A left-handed batter who hopes to benefit from new shift restrictions, the 29-year-old Nimmo hit .274 last year with 16 homers, 64 RBIs and a team-high 102 runs. He met with several teams at the winter meetings in San Diego last week and was impressed by the Mets’ moves.
”They went out and tried to make a statement: We’re going to go, we’re going to compete, we’re going to win again this year,” Nimmo said. ”That was most important to me, was where can I go and compete on a yearly basis and win every single year.”
Nimmo gets a $2 million signing bonus, an $18.25 million salary next year and $20.25 million annually from 2024-30.
”It’s one of the best days of my life, honestly,” he said. ”I’ve been able to solidify being with the Mets for the next eight years. And then on top of that, I get to come and be a part of a party like this and get to hand out gifts and give so much joy to kids during this holiday season.”
Selected by the Mets with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, Nimmo said he is open to becoming team captain. He even thought about the July ceremony to retire Keith Hernandez’s No. 17 and thought of his No. 9 joining it one day.
”One thing that Chelsea I would talk about sometimes at night,” he said, ”is it would be pretty cool to put up a great career culminated with the World Series and maybe one day we could get our number hung like Keith.”
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