Mets closer Edwin Diaz had a dominant season in 2022, posting a 1.31 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 62 innings and saving 32 of 35 opportunities. He figured to be the top reliever on the free-agent market this offseason, but any teams who were looking at him will need to pivot to Plan B, as he’s staying in New York on a record-breaking contract.
The Edwin Diaz deal, which @bnightengale reported, is the first nine-figure contract ever for a closer and for the first time takes the position into the $20 million-plus range. A huge number — and the Mets get a top priority locked up before full free agency starts on Thursday.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 6, 2022
Diaz has had an up-and-down career, or more accurately, an up-and-down-and-up-and-down-and-up-and-down-and-up career, with his seven years in the big leagues marked by excellent performances in even-numbered years and poor performances in odd years. The Mets are banking on that being a numerical fluke rather than an immutable pattern with this contract, the first one in history to guarantee a reliever more than $20 million per year.
The Dodgers had figured to at least kick the tires on Diaz, since their 2022 closer finished the season not just out of the closer role but off the postseason roster. Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily need to go outside the organization, as they could go with a closer-by-committee approach or they could install one of their dominant relievers in that role. But a closer as dominant as Diaz surely would have been intriguing for L.A., although it’s hard to picture them even coming close to what Diaz got from the Mets.
Diaz has averaged about 62 innings per year for the Mets. At that rate, they’ll be paying him about $329,000 per inning over the next five years. He might end up being worth it, but at first glance, this looks like a case of New York owner Steve Cohen sending out a reminder to the baseball world that he has a crap-ton of money and he’s not afraid to throw it around.
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