The Yankees need to pursue Brandon Nimmo this offseason

Ryan Garcia
new york mets, brandon nimmo
Jun 18, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) reacts following his two-run single in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are going to need to add some added firepower to the lineup this off-season. While they finished 4th in wRC+ and 2nd in Runs Scored, they struggled mightily in the postseason as they mustered terrible offensive numbers. The Astros befuddled them all series in the ALCS as they swept the Yankees in an embarrassing fashion.

Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner need to have a massive offseason, and while signing Aaron Judge will be their priority, they cannot forget to add to other parts of the team.

The Yankees lacked identity at the top of the lineup, and while they’re certainly talented, they need a true leadoff option with a high OBP and solid power for their lineup. Brandon Nimmo posted a 5.4 WAR and 132 wRC+ in 2022, and with his variety of tools and left-handed presence, he presents a piece to the puzzle that is the Yankees’ playoff woes.

Perfect Plate Discipline and Hit Tool Skills:

The Yankees struggled with high whiff rates, and that led to a power outage that they couldn’t overcome. In the ALCS, the Yankees ran a 35.2% K%, by far the highest K% by any team in either the ALCS or NLCS. They also ran a putrid .228 xwOBA, and so Brandon Nimmo profiles as someone who can provide the Yankees better bat-to-ball skills, and that’s due to stellar contact skills and swing decisions.

  • 19.6% Whiff% (24.7% MLB Average)
  • 21.3% Chase% (28.4% MLB Average)
  • 7.6% Swinging Strike% (11.2% MLB Average)
  • 17.2% Strikeout% (22.1% MLB Average)
  • 10.5% Walk% (8.4% MLB Average)
  • 69.7% Out-Of-Zone Contact% (63.5% MLB Average)
  • 4.13 Pitches per Plate Appearance (3.89 MLB Average)

Brandon Nimmo doesn’t whiff much, doesn’t swing through many strikes, doesn’t offer at many pitches out of the zone, and when he does expand, he tends to make contact more than the average hitter. Pitchers are going to be squeezed in counts, thus causing high-stress pitches before facing a batter like Aaron Judge.

Brandon Nimmo has the 6th best OBP and 12th best wRC+ in all of baseball since 2018 (min. 1,000 PAs), flying under the radar as one of the very best top of the lineup options in baseball. Factor in being in the 84th Percentile in Sprint Speed, and you can see how he’s accumulated a top 10 WAR amongst outfielders in that timespan.

How Is Brandon Nimmo an Upgrade for the Yankees?

Many Yankee fans may point to how Andrew Benintendi and DJ LeMahieu provided similar skills at the top of the lineup, but let’s delve into their slash lines and compare them to Brandon Nimmo in 2022:

  • Brandon Nimmo: .275/.367/.433
  • Andrew Benintendi: .304/.373/.399
  • DJ LeMahieu: .261/.357/.377

While Benintendi is the best in terms of average and OBP, note the massive gap in SLG% between Nimmo and the rest. Brandon Nimmo played in a ballpark with a 96 HR Park Factor per Statcast, thus meaning Citi Field is not very HR friendly, this is while Yankee Stadium is the 8th most friendly ballpark for HRs in the league. Brandon Nimmo clubbed 16 HRs in 2022 despite the spacious outfield in Queens, and his higher SLG% is important since it led to his OPS+ being 130 in comparison to LeMahieu (111 OPS+) and Benintendi (120 OPS+), it was noticeably better. Power matters for batters, as if pitchers feel they can attack a hitter in the postseason, their plate discipline is less of a threat.

As for speed, Brandon Nimmo’s 84th Percentile Sprint Speed makes him much faster than LeMahieu (29th Percentile) and Benintendi (53rd Percentile), and with a very aggressive baserunning approach the Yankees tried to have in 2022, it’s possible that added speed at the top of the order could give them a threat to swipe 2nd or be a hit-and-run option. He provides a ton of coverage for the Yankees, as they can get some power and great speed on top of the table-setting Nimmo provides, and that’s something they’ll improve upon from DJLM or Benintendi.

Perfect Defensive Fit for Left Field

Brandon Nimmo was tasked with playing CF in 2022, and he did so to the tune of +6 OAA. He also has an arm that registers in the 72nd Percentile in Arm Strength. Averaging 88.1 MPH, he added 3.9 MPH on throws on average from his 2021 season. He doesn’t get great jumps (34th Percentile), but it could be argued it’s due to how deep he plays in CF. At 328 feet, Brandon Nimmo has the 11th deepest starting position among 141 centerfielders who have been in CF for 100 PAs or more. Nimmo plays deep due to his great routes and strong speed, and thus you’ll see more coverage for Nimmo.

He’ll slide over nicely in left, as he has 870.1 innings out there with 7 DRS and 5 OAA. The defensive component would play perfectly with the speedy Harrison Bader in center, and if the Yankees retain Aaron Judge as well, they could have the best defensive outfield in the entire sport.

What Should the Yankees Pay for Brandon Nimmo?

Brandon Nimmo is going to net a solid payday, and looking at what his WAR output has been and what the market has been established at for outfielders, we are looking at a 9 figure contract. He’s coming off of a season where he posted a top 25 fWAR, and since 2020 has the 21st fWAR in the sport.

His injury history in the past provides a scare, and that will 100% play a factor in contract negotiations. You’d like to get roughly 15-18 WAR from Brandon Nimmo in a five-year deal, and that translates to about 3.0-3.6 WAR per season. If Brandon Nimmo is able to provide that 15-18 WAR mark, he’ll get the Yankees between $120 million and $144 million of value based on how much the market pays per Win Above Replacement.

I’m not suggesting the Yankees give Nimmo nearly $30 million a year, rather, the Yankees should feel comfortable giving him a five-year, $115 million deal. That nets Nimmo $23 million AAV and carry him through his age-35 season. I could see a 6th-year option, but this is the type of contract that satisfies both parties. The Yankees desperately need a left-handed bat like Nimmo who can check all the boxes they’re looking for, and they should push heavily to sign the Wyoming native.