Mets closer Edwin Diaz has set himself up for a huge payday this winter. It sounds like he’s looking to set a new standard for relievers, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
This shouldn’t be shocking news. Not too long ago, we said Diaz had a chance to break a couple of records with his next contract. Reports have also surfaced since the Mets’ season ended that New York wants to lock up its closer to a long-term deal before he even reaches free agency.
If we’re connecting the dots here, the Mets will have to make a record-breaking offer to Diaz if they don’t want him reaching the open market. Will that happen, though? It’s a benefit for teams to have an exclusive negotiating window with their free agents for five days after the World Series. However, in cases like this, New York could also just be bidding against itself.
One would think general manager Billy Eppler and Co. might not want to do that. If that’s true, they risk losing the best closer in baseball and his entertaining entry into games. Or, they end up paying even more money after getting into a bidding war with other teams.
We know Steve Cohen and the Mets have money to lock Diaz down for the next few years. It’s also a fact that if the organization wants to remain competitive in 2023, it’ll need to spend a lot of money.
After all, the Mets have several impending free agents who performed very well in 2022. So, they’ll need to get paid appropriately.
As for Diaz, the benchmarks are pretty simple, and Heyman laid them out in his article, too. Once again, it’s nothing new. The two things Diaz’s representation apparently has their eye on are Liam Hendriks’ $18 million per year salary, as well as Aroldis Chapman’s five-year, $86 million deal.
Could the Puerto Rican reliever get himself to $100 million with his next contract? ESPN’s MLB insider Jeff Passan thinks so. And if the Mets would rather not go five years in these negotiations, they’ll have to up the ante regarding annual average value. So, that could mean anywhere between $90 and $100 million over four years for Diaz, who will be 29 years old on Opening Day.
In 62 innings of work during the 2022 regular season, Diaz collected 32 saves to go along with a 1.31 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and 3.0 fWAR. He also compiled a 50.2% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate. If we take out the 2020 season since it was only 60 games long, that strikeout rate is tied for the second-highest by a qualified reliever in MLB history. He’s tied with Craig Kimbrel (2012, Braves), while Chapman (52.5% in 2014 for the Reds) is the only one ahead of him.
So, yea — we can see why he wants to use this opportunity to cash in and set a new standard for elite relief pitchers. He certainly has a case.