PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The players’ parking lot at Clover Park features all the ornamentation one might expect from a group of young men with disposable income. On his first day as a Met, Max Scherzer rolled into town in a jet-black Porsche. Carlos Carrasco owns a Ferrari and a Rolls-Royce. Souped-up pickup trucks lord over the lot.
Only one vehicle seems out of place: a light-gold, 2010 Nissan Altima that belongs to Brandon Nimmo. It does not have power seating nor Bluetooth capabilities. The dashboard is cracked from more than a decade of sun exposure. When Nimmo wants to listen to music, he must choose between a radio tuner, a CD player or an auxiliary cord that plugs into his phone.
“But it still does what I need it to do,” Nimmo said. “When I throw luggage in the back, do I want to be doing that on a $100,000 Mercedes?”
The answer, apparently, is no, even though Nimmo’s reasons for keeping the Altima in his garage are more sentimental than practical. When Nimmo received a scholarship to the University of Arkansas coming out of high school, his parents told him that he could use some of the money the family would have spent on an education to purchase a more reliable car.
Ron Nimmo, Brandon’s father, was an accountant with a penchant for sniffing out a bargain, so he was pleased to find a Nissan dealership looking to rid itself of the few 2010 Altimas left on the lot. When the dealership offered a few thousand dollars off the MSRP, the marriage became official: Brandon Nimmo was the proud, new owner of a reliable, four-door vehicle that he could drive to wherever his baseball life took him.
“It’s his baby,” said teammate Jeff McNeil.
Every 5,000 miles, Nimmo takes the Altima for an oil change. Other than that, the car hasn’t needed much maintenance over the years, largely because Nimmo has only put around 65,000 miles on it. A year after he was drafted, Nimmo splurged on a used 2011 GMC Sierra, which he keeps in Wyoming and uses in that area. The Altima was reserved for local travel on the East Coast, where Nimmo quickly realized he had no desire for a luxury vehicle.
“When I got to New York City, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to be a defensive driver all the time,’” Nimmo said, noting that his insurance and taxes would be higher with a more expensive set of wheels. “People are always trying to cut in front of you. I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t need a nice car, because you’ve got to play chicken with these people anyway. If the Altima gets a little beat-up, I don’t care.”
Then there’s the most important part: “It gets me from Point A to Point B.”
Of course, Nimmo has taken plenty razzing over the years from teammates, many of whom are prideful in the quality of their rides. (It was not so long ago that Yoenis Céspedes made daily headlines for driving a different luxury vehicle onto the lot every day for a week.) Even fans will sometimes comment on Nimmo’s car when he stops to sign autographs, “though some of them will be like, ‘I love that you still have this thing.’”
“Now, it’s almost like a part of me,” Nimmo said. “It’s almost nostalgic to me now.”
As somebody who has already made -- including his Draft bonus -- more than $10 million in his career, Nimmo has at times considered buying a new car. He admits it would be nice to have a Bluetooth connection, maybe a backup camera to look for oncoming traffic. Plus if things break the way that Nimmo hopes, he will either sign a long-term extension with the Mets or cash in with a new contract as a free agent this winter, potentially earning many multiples of what he already does.
But even if Nimmo caves and buys something new, he’s unlikely to send the Altima to the scrap heap. It still runs just fine. The Kelley Blue Book value is only a few thousand bucks, so as Nimmo sees it, “she’s worth more to me than that.”
“It keeps me humble,” he said. “It kind of reminds me of where I came from. When I have a bad game, I can hop in and be like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t buy that $100,000 Mercedes.’ … I’ll probably run her till she’s ragged, and then we’ll see what happens.”