Mets Monday Morning GM: All 3 Billy Eppler contract extensions have backfired

The Mets haven't been lucky with the contract extensions under Billy Eppler.
May 6, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) celebrates with
May 6, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) celebrates with / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

And then there’s Edwin Diaz, too. The most unexpected of New York Mets players to go “kaboom!” has imploded on the mound a few too many times already this season for anyone to have trust in him.

The Mets never allowed Diaz to get to free agency after the remarkable 2022 season. Signing for a record $102 million, the most any reliever has ever received, it was a welcomed move by the richest owner in MLB to approve. Even as we wonder about him in 2024, it’s a signing all of us would make again and again.

If there’s one of the players Eppler extended we should have faith in figuring things out, it’s Diaz. He was the best closer in baseball. Then again, in that same 2022 season, Jeff McNeil was the batting champion. His contract extension, too, has backfired on the Mets.

Mets players Billy Eppler signed to contract extensions haven't worked out so well

Nobody knew how to spend Steve Cohen’s money more freely than Billy Eppler. Just about every free agent he brought in got a year or two too many. The massive contracts handed out to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were “all in” additions for the 2023 season which quickly became moot as the avenger-assembled mercenary group struggled to stay relevant by the trade deadline.

The Diaz extension was an obvious move the team had to make. The McNeil one might’ve been a bit premature. Not nearly as costly with the 2025 season’s increase to $15.75 million being the first in which he would’ve reached free agency, it’s looking like the Mets may have over $30 million to spend on an ex-batting champion whose average is competing alongside their third-string catcher, Tomas Nido.

Nido isn’t getting out of this so easily either. A godsend this season only because Omar Narvaez has been even worse (one of those free agents signed by Eppler for a year too many), Nido never should’ve gotten an extension. He’s arbitration eligible through 2025 already. Unless this was some sort of scheme to overpay him so he’d pass through waivers, which thankfully worked last year because the Mets need him right now, it was a ridiculously unnecessary move to make.

Contract extensions are a newer concept in Major League Baseball, particularly with younger players nowhere near free agency. Since Cohen took over as the owner, they’ve been more plentiful. Francisco Lindor was the big one months before he would’ve hit the open market. We didn’t see any others until after the 2022 season when Eppler made three more.

None are working out so well for the Mets. And with Diaz having nothing but player options in 2026 and again in 2027, the power lies strictly with him.

The Mets tried to do a good thing. Diaz, McNeil, and Nido (in his own way) were all popular players and ones who had a role to play. Like far too many contract extensions in Mets history, they’re trending in the wrong direction. And if Pete Alonso had signed the rumored $158 million extension, we'd have a fourth we'd believe was cursed by Eppler.