Brandon Nimmo, Mets finalize $162 million, 8-year contract

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NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo and the New York Mets finalized their $162 million, eight-year contract on Saturday.

Nimmo gets a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of $18.25 million this year and $20.25 million annually from 2024-30.

A quality leadoff hitter with a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

“Brandon has been part of the Mets family since he was drafted over 10 years ago,” Mets owner Steve Cohen said in a statement. “Throughout his career, Brandon has contributed so much to the club both on and off the field. His hustle and personality are a part of what makes this team so special.”

Nimmo hit .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs this year, a career best. Hampered by injuries in the past, the left-handed hitter also set career highs with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back the affable Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that is pending a physical.

During the offseason, the Mets have agreed to an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander, retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz with a $102 million, five-year deal, reached a $26 million, two-year agreement with pitcher Jose Quintana and agreed to a $10 million, one-year deal with reliever David Robertson.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.