Mets' Brandon Nimmo nudging Steve Cohen to be a buyer at trade deadline

PITTSBURGH — Within the past week, New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, the longest-tenured player on the team, has lobbied owner Steve Cohen and president of baseball operations David Stearns for additions by the trade deadline.

“Any chance that I get, I kind of throw that in there,” Nimmo said with a smile in a recent interview with The Athletic.

In the final week before the All-Star break, the Mets linger in the wild-card picture. After going 4-4 during their most recent road trip, the Mets (44-45) remain 2 1/2 games back.

“I don’t think that we are that far off from being a real contender,” Nimmo said.

Since June, the Mets’ offense boasts a National League-best .819 OPS and their starting pitchers’ 4.24 ERA during that span checks in at around league average.

Their bullpen, however, requires an upgrade. Statistically, the unit also has produced at a league-average level, but Edwin Díaz’s suspension (he returned Saturday) and injuries tested their depth and led to high usage in some cases.

The Mets’ 8-2 loss on Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates provided the latest example of the need to add to the bullpen. Mets manager Carlos Mendoza told rookie starter Christian Scott on Sunday that Scott would be limited to 75 pitches Monday. Scott allowed just one hit — a two-run home run — Monday in 5 2/3 innings but was pulled after throwing 77 pitches. Eric Orze allowed three runs in his debut. Adrian Houser surrendered another three.

Nimmo expressed a mostly sunny outlook about the trip and tipped his cap to the tough pitching the Mets faced over the past eight games. “I know everyone thinks we’re supposed to go like 6-2 on this road trip,” he said, “but honestly, 4-4 is not the worst.”

But losses like Monday are why Nimmo is bending the owner’s ear. On that topic, he was candid.

“Honestly, that’s the story of the year so far. We haven’t been able to lock down wins all the time,” Nimmo said. “And that’s a problem. But we’re hoping to address it. We’re hoping to continue to get better at it. We know we went on a streak there where we did a lot better. So we know it’s in there, but it’s a problem. There’s no question. But still think there’s positives to look at on this road trip.”

The Mets need to add at least two relievers if they plan to contend. That sentiment comes from rival evaluators who have scouted the Mets. Also, it’s obvious. A right-hander and a lefty would be preferable.

The latter is especially important. Jake Diekman was never meant to be the Mets’ top left-handed option (Brooks Raley was that guy but an injury has cost him the rest of the season) and evaluators have pointed to heavy usage as the reason for his struggles.

Diekman, who has a 5.06 ERA in 2024, has already thrown more high-leverage pitches with the Mets than he did for the Tampa Bay Rays last year. He has had 42 such matchups in 2024 after just 35 high-leverage plate appearances last year. Overall with the Rays last year, Diekman had a 2.18 ERA in 50 appearances.

New York acquired lefty Matt Gage from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday for cash. They optioned him to Triple A. In 19 2/3 major-league innings over his career, Gage has a 1.83 ERA. He has been on teams known for developing pitchers — the Astros and Dodgers — and he’s worth taking a small chance on. But the Mets should continue exploring external help barring some kind of collapse.

The Mets have resuscitated their season after being 11 games under .500 on June 3, but plenty of work remains. Star shortstop Francisco Lindor said on Sunday if the Mets are between, say a game under .500 and a couple of games over .500, by the All-Star break that they’d be in a decent spot to contend. That’s right around where the Mets have been over the last week and a half.

“I know we’re a very analytical team, so they have to run the numbers and see our odds and all this stuff,” Lindor said. “But I feel like in the second half, anything can happen.”

Lindor said it hasn’t gotten to the point yet where he has also started serious conversations with the front office about the trade deadline. Using a metaphor, Lindor said he wants the Mets to have their heads above water before the All-Star break and then play well immediately afterward. Before their game on Saturday, Lindor said the water was at the Mets’ collarbone — the stakes are high for the remainder of July. Things can still go in varying ways for the Mets and their roster featuring several veterans on expiring contracts.

As the owner, Cohen has long had running conversations with players, especially veterans locked up for the long term such as Lindor and Nimmo. Both veterans have strong reputations in the clubhouse; they don’t call people out publicly but offer constructive, reasonable reviews of the team.

Nimmo said his messaging to Cohen and the front office is, “I want to be able to have a voice in this. I know you’re not going to go my way every time but I want us to have a conversation about it. And I’ll tell you what my perspective is from ground zero, down on the field. It just gives you a different perspective. The more opinions and perspectives you can get, the better a decision that can be made.”

(Photo of Brandon Nimmo: Justin Berl / Getty Images)

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