- Tim Burke
It is time for the Red Sox to be aggressive and sign Brandon Nimmo
This offseason is one of the most important in recent memory for the Boston Red Sox. The organization has many critical decisions to make regarding what direction this organization will go in. The future of this club is uncertain, and with the stellar talent in the division, Boston needs to make several upgrades to their roster to compete in the American League East. Boston's main priorities should be keeping Xander Bogaerts and adding starting pitching. But another area of focus for the Red Sox should be finding a lead-off hitter. Since losing Mookie Betts, the production at the top of the Red Sox has drastically decreased. Over the last three seasons, the On Base Percentage from the Red Sox lead-off spot has gone from .339 to .319 to .295, which is abysmal considering the job of the lead-off hitter is to get on base. In Betts's final two years in Boston, he had a combined On Base Percentage of .413, and his presence in the lineup is clearly missed. Since his departure, Boston has used twenty-two different lead-off hitters. Boston has a problem at the top of the order, and the best solution to that problem is Brandon Nimmo.
The 30-year-old Nimmo is coming off a stellar season with the New York Mets with a 5.1 Wins Above Replacement, an On Base Percentage of .367, and a wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) of 143, 5th among all outfielders. The Free Agent Center Fielder is elite at the most critical aspect of being a lead-off hitter, which is getting on base. Since 2020, only five players in baseball have a higher On Base Percentage than Brandon Nimmo. Those players are Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, and Paul Goldschmidt. That is some elite company. Nimmo's patience and discipline at the plate are qualities that the Red Sox need. Their aggressive approach of swinging early at bats did not work for them in 2022. They need a player like Nimmo who can be slotted at the top of the order, see pitches, work the count, and has a knack for getting on base. Even though Nimmo is 30, a long-term contract may not be painful for the Red Sox to swallow. Nimmo's plate discipline will not decline with age, and he will continue to get on base for as long as he is in the lineup, which leads us to the main concern with Brandon Nimmo. His health. Only twice in his seven-year career in the big leagues has Nimmo played 100 games, and it is hard to invest big money in a player who struggles to stay on the field. Look, signing any Free Agent is a risky investment. And if you focus too much on the risk, you won't sign any big-name free agents.
Do the Red Sox need to sign Brandon Nimmo? No. Do they need to improve their offense? Absolutely. Is finding a consistent lead-off hitter a significant part of improving the offense? Yes. And the best man for that job is Brandon Nimmo. He is an electrifying talent who will undoubtedly improve the Red Sox offense. Boston would not pay for Mookie Betts his worth to be their lead-off hitter. Now that they have the money, they need to replace him with the best option they can find.
With the MLB Winter Meetings taking place this week, it would not be a surprise to see many of the best Free Agents find new homes this week. It would be wise to spend money on the top players in this thin Free Agent class. It is time for the Red Sox to be something we have not seen from them in some time, aggressive.