A group of journalists walked down the hallway of the Manchester Grand Hyatt ready to speak with Colorado Rockies’ GM Bill Schmidt to discuss their offseason plans and gain insight about the near future of the franchise.
As we waited for the elevator to go up to Schmidt’s suite, small talk was made as we each respectively began to think about the questions we’d pepper the fourth general manager in club history.
The image of Brandon Nimmo wearing purple pinstripes has occupied space our minds since Colorado was first linked with the left-handed hitting center fielder from the New York Mets this offseason. Their interest even goes back to the end of the regular season.
How we phrased our question about Nimmo would be half the battle in getting the best possible response from the typically guarded, yet affable Schmidt. There was time to craft the words appropriately. The Harbor Tower stands 40 stories high and boasts views of the San Diego Bay and the tied island of Coronado; so, there was time.
Alas, when the doors opened for us to get out a second later, the group exited onto the sixth floor.
We were 34 floors short of the penthouse. What we were about to learn in the conversation with Schmidt would confirm the Rockies would be doing the same with their center field plans.
No Longer Lingering for Nimmo
To be clear, not targeting Nimmo isn’t exactly about saving payroll. Schmidt said he didn’t feel limited by the payroll and that he’s able to communicate with owner Dick Monfort on a case by case basis, when needed.
There’s a budget, but the wrong deal is simply the wrong deal.
Cody Bellinger, on the other hand, would be the right deal for 2023. And only 2023.
“That’s the great thing about one year,” Schmidt said before coming to a dramatic pause. “It’s only worth the risk for one year. You’re not tied into multiple years.”
At age-27, Bellinger doesn’t want to be locked into a contract that evaluates him on his previous three seasons, all of which were lackluster, at best. Instead, a one-year pact allows him to reset his value and, with a good enough season, convince teams next offseason that he’s much closer to the 2019 National League MVP. With that evaluation comes multiple years with a much higher average annual salary.
Even if one year is better than the five or six that Nimmo is sure to pine for with agent Scott Boras, there’s another aspect as to why he doesn’t fit right now.
“We like some of the young kids coming. We’re not looking to block our young guys,” Schmidt explained of a long-term deal for Nimmo.
Consider both Nimmo and Kris Bryant would combine to make in the neighborhood of $50 million for the 2026-28 seasons when the pair would be in their age- 33-35 and 32-34 seasons, respectively.
Zac Veen will be only 24 years old at that point while fellow outfielders Benny Montgomery and Yanquiel Fernández will be 23. All three will likely be making the league minimum of $700K for at least 2026, or roughly three percent of the two veteran outfielders’ salary.
Bellinger is a better bet than Nimmo, we learned. Kevin Kiermaier was also mentioned, same with Michael Conforto, who may also be brazen in his asking price after missing all of 2022 following right shoulder surgery. But with all four still on the market, not to mention the services of Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates possibly being up for grabs, the market seems far too steep at the moment.
As time goes by, less and less seats will become available and some players will have to make concessions in their demands.
To put it a very unique way, “Things have a way of changing when you have to tell Grandma where your job is for next year,” according to Schmidt.