By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to a $162 million, eight-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.
“Glad to be back! Let’s go!” Nimmo posted Thursday night on Twitter.
A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and 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.
Known for his constant hustle and big smile, Nimmo batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, 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.
“He’s a good player. He’s established himself,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday at the winter meetings in San Diego. “He had a post-up, good physical year where he, for whatever reason he seemed to get through a lot of things that have been a challenge in the past, that didn’t snowball into something where he had to sit out a lot of games. So that was good to see. So he answered some questions there. He’s capable of it.”
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 was pending a physical.
On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Díaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter José Quintana, pending a physical.
Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve 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.
“Brandon got better every year he played,” Showalter said.
AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Jay Cohen contributed to this report.
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