The absence of Edwin Diaz in the Mets’ bullpen is a void the team probably won’t be able to fill until he eventually returns. And while everyone’s first thought is for general manager Billy Eppler to go out and make a deal, there’s no rush.
Not having the best closer in baseball is not an ideal scenario as we approach Opening Day. But then again, it’s only March. There’s a lot of time for things to play out and the situation to change once games actually start counting.
Plus, having David Robertson already in the bullpen is not a bad backup plan. The right-hander has 157 career saves, has experienced big-game atmospheres, and he’s also familiar with New York thanks to his time with the Yankees.
We shared a handful of potential relief pitcher targets for New York in the wake of Diaz’s injury. The free-agent options (Zack Britton, Corey Knebel, Will Harris) aren’t ideal, which is obvious. They wouldn’t still be available to sign at this point in the year if there weren’t concerns. The possible trade targets are much more intriguing. However, they’d also cost much more than just shelling over some money, which owner Steve Cohen has plenty of.
The most attractive bullpen trade target for the Mets might very well be Alexis Diaz (Edwin’s brother). He’s expected to be the Cincinnati Reds’ closer and put together a stellar 2022 (1.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 10 saves in 63.2 innings). New York inquired about his availability before last year’s trade deadline, but talks didn’t go anywhere.
Nothing has been rekindled since Edwin’s injury, and that’s not shocking. Trades don’t happen too often at this time of year because teams with attractive assets have all the leverage. The price to acquire any player is going to be astronomical.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post essentially confirms this by saying the following about what Mets people think it’d take to acquire Diaz:
The plan seems to be to at least go into the season and see how it goes before possibly looking into the trade market, if needed.
There’s no evidence there’s been serious trade talk regarding Edwin Diaz’s kid brother Alexis since last July, and the reason seems to be that the Mets are convinced the price tag will be higher than their comfort level.
Based on past talks, Mets’ people believe it might take a combo of Alex Ramirez and Kevin Parada, something they don’t want to do. …
The Reds could use a catcher, as it might benefit them to move young backstop Tyler Stephenson to first base once Joey Votto retires.
Francisco Alvarez is the player they’d like, but that’s obviously a non-starter. Parada is a highly regarded hitter, but scouts seem divided on whether he will catch.
Diaz was a rookie in 2022. The Reds are likely going nowhere this year. But why would they just send him packing without asking for a king’s ransom? It looks like he has the makings of being an elite late-inning reliever. He also isn’t a free agent until 2028 and isn’t even arbitration-eligible until 2025.
Neither Parada nor Ramirez has played about A-Ball yet, but they’re the third- and fourth-ranked prospects in the Mets’ system. According to MLB.com, they’re each among the game’s top 100 prospects, as well.
Of course the Mets wouldn’t want to do that. Regarding Diaz, though, the price probably won’t go down a couple of months from now. But, other relievers could become available for a more palatable price tag.
It’s impossible to replace Edwin. The Mets know that, and so does everybody else. However, Robertson can step in to close for the time being, and New York has built a fair amount of bullpen depth that can hopefully piece things together.
There’s no reason to overpay as a reaction to losing Diaz for the year. Hearing Cincy’s potential asking price for Alexis just confirms that.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.