There were several tough moments during the Mets’ season-ending 6-0 loss to the Padres. One of the toughest was seeing Edwin Diaz enter the game for an eighth-inning appearance to an unenthused Citi Field crowd.
Thinking about Diaz entering a playoff game with “Narco” blasting through the speakers was supposed to provide instant goosebumps. It probably did on Saturday night when he entered with a lead, but not on Sunday as New York’s season slowly slipped away.
Was that the last time Mets fans would get to hear Timmy Trumpet at Citi Field? If it’s up to team owner Steve Cohen and the front office, it won’t be.
According to Michael Mayer of Metsmerized Online, the Mets don’t even want their dominant closer reaching free agency. Each club has an exclusive negotiating window with their pending free agents that extends five days beyond the final game of the World Series. Once that hits, they’re free to begin negotiating with other interested clubs.
New York has an intriguing offseason ahead following a 101-win performance. Many impact players are set to hit the open market. It appears the front office values Diaz so much that they’d like to come to an agreement before getting into any kind of bidding war.
Seeing some urgency from the Mets here makes total sense. Many of those impactful pending free agents are coming from their pitching staff. Manager Buck Showalter showed an ability to get a lot out of various arms in his bullpen, but it’s hard to replace the best closer in the game. Diaz showed his value by entering in high-leverage situations not only in the ninth but also as early as the sixth inning. Showalter also used his righty reliever for more than three outs on quite a few occasions.
The production was rather insane, too. The 3.0 fWAR Diaz posted is among the top-30 reliever seasons since 2000. His 50.2% strikeout rate is tied with Craig Kimbrel (in 2012 with Atlanta) for the third-highest strikeout rate ever.
When looking at these numbers through the lens of Mets history, they’re even more dominant. That strikeout rate is easily a new franchise record, but it’s not just that. Diaz has posted four of the top six single-season strikeout rates by a reliever in Mets history. His 3.0 fWAR is the second-highest by a Mets relief pitcher.
The only hurler to join/beat him in these categories? That’d be Armando Benitez.
Diaz has consistently produced in a way we’ve never seen before in Queens. As a lifelong Mets fan himself, Cohen is well aware of this and more. In the aftermath of the season ending, Diaz did say he hoped the Mets would approach him quickly. It seems like that’s exactly what’s going to be happening.