Mets re-sign Brandon Nimmo, add veteran reliever as payroll reaches record high: report

The “Steve Cohen tax” is the highest luxury tax tier a team can go to in regard to payroll in MLB, and the New York Mets owner is living up to it. 

Cohen and the Mets dished out another lucrative deal, re-signing their former first-round pick, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, at $162 million over the next eight seasons, according to ESPN. 

Cohen wasn’t done. The Mets reportedly signed veteran reliever David Robertson to a one-year pact worth $10 million. 

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David Robertson #30 of the Philadelphia Phillies deliver a pitch against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on September 13, 2022 in Miami, Florida. 

David Robertson #30 of the Philadelphia Phillies deliver a pitch against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on September 13, 2022 in Miami, Florida. 
(Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

With those contracts, the Mets have an estimated payroll of $333 million at Opening Day, per Spotrac, a number the Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t even touched with their star-studded roster over the years. 

That’s not the overall number Cohen will have to pay, though. There are now four luxury tax thresholds after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and MLBPA was agreed to prior to last season. 

With Cohen not afraid to flex his financial muscle after purchasing the Mets, he was the likely candidate to hit the fourth tier, which is an 80% overage for first-time taxpayers and 90% overage for second-time payers. 

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Cohen had to pay luxury tax after the Mets’ payroll hit roughly $261 million last year, though that falls into Tier Two (32% overage). 

Spotrac is estimating that Cohen’s tax bill will be $65 million, or a grand total of $395 million for the 2023 season. 

And here’s the best part: The Mets may not be done adding more players. 

Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets makes a catch at the wall on a ball off the bat of Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning at Citi Field on August 31, 2022 in New York City.

Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets makes a catch at the wall on a ball off the bat of Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning at Citi Field on August 31, 2022 in New York City.
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There is a possibility the Mets still want to add another bat to their lineup. A bonafide designated hitter, like J.D. Martinez, is still out on the free-agent market and could fit right in as someone that primarily bats with the option to start in the outfield if needed. 

But after losing Jacob deGrom, who decided to sign a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers instead of return to the Mets, New York was fast to snatch the 2022 AL Cy Young winner of the market: Justin Verlander. 

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The right-hander signed a massive two-year, $86 million deal which comes out to $43 million per season – a tick under the average annual value Max Scherzer pitches on over the next two seasons. 

Simply put, the Mets are in win-now mode and it’s clear Cohen sees that window and is doing the best he can to get the best team in Flushing, Queens for this season at least. 

The Mets drafted Nimmo in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, and has been an on-base machine for them since making his debut in 2016. 

Nimmo owns a .385 on-base percentage over his seven-year career, hitting .269 with a .441 slugging percentage and .827 OPS. His calling card is hustle no matter the situation, even if he’s walked by a pitcher. That mentality at the top of the lineup has been something the Mets enjoy and clearly don’t want to see elsewhere around MLB. 

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander delivers against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 16, 2022, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. 

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander delivers against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 16, 2022, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. 
(Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Nimmo’s defensive game also took a step up this past season, as Buck Showalter felt confident with him in center field despite previous seasons of shaky play. 

Injuries were also a problem with Nimmo in recent seasons, but he was able to play 151 games last year and Cohen will hope that availability will continue throughout this new contract. 

As for Robertson, he joins a bullpen that needed more back-end, lockdown guys like Edwin Diaz, who was quickly re-signed to the Mets after his All-Star campaign in 2021. 

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This will be Robertson’s age 38 season, but he pitched to a 2.40 ERA with the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies last season over 63.2 innings, proving he still has what it takes in high-pressure situations. 

The Mets were winners of 101 games last season to take the NL East title, but they lost to the San Diego Padres in the wild card round at Citi Field in three games. 

Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets reacts after making a catch in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on August 31, 2022 in New York City.

Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets reacts after making a catch in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on August 31, 2022 in New York City.
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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They fell short of a World Series run, but are equipped once again to dominate the National League and will likely be an early favorite to take home their first title since 1986. 

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