Free agency proper doesn’t even begin until Thursday afternoon and the Mets already made the first statement. Forget that Diaz’s 32 saves didn’t even touch his career-best 57. A 1.31 ERA and being a lights-out closer en route to 101 regular season wins for the Mets means Timmy Trumpet and “Narco” are here to stay.
So what does this have to do with the Yankees? Well, general manager Brian Cashman now has no excuse for not making a deal with Aaron Judge during this exclusive negotiating window. The big outfielder hit an American League-record 62 home runs with an MLB-best 131 RBI. Judge also hit a career-high .311 and was in the Triple Crown conversation late in the season.
Look at the Mets’ approach. Owner Steve Cohen and GM Billy Eppler didn’t care that Diaz’s contract year meant he could command $20 million a year. That’s almost unheard of for a closer. But they realized how important Diaz was to their success in 2022 and paid up. After all, he was also the best and youngest closer on the market.
Judge, by contrast, is the hands-down best hitter in free agency. He stated all year how much he wanted to stay with the Yankees, even after turning down an extension offer on Opening Day. Cashman had his end-of-year press conference on Friday and reiterated how important Judge was to the team.
This is not a time for Cashman to let the analytics dictate his decision. The Mets won 101 games, were eliminated early, and still arguably overpaid Diaz because they considered him that important.
The Yankees won two fewer games and advanced as far as the ALCS, and they can’t make the same commitment to the man who helped get them there? It should be a no-brainer but, knowing Cashman, the numbers have the final say.
The Mets showed they were serious when they gave Diaz the contract he wanted and would worry about the rest later. Judge doesn’t just deserve the same treatment, but the same and more.