Nobody makes New York Mets fans foam at the mouth with frustration more than Edwin Diaz. Whether he is pitching good or bad, he’s a source of anger because of his role as the team’s closer.
It’s part of the job. Closers are almost always ridiculed when they perform poorly and overlooked when they get the job done.
A free agent next winter, Diaz is embarking on an important year of his career. Following the poor Mets debut in 2019, he has been far better yet nowhere near where he was with the Seattle Mariners. Still, Diaz boasts the fifth-largest salary of any closer in baseball this season and could see himself at the top of the list next year. How much could the Mets expect to pay him if they want to keep Diaz around?
Mets closer Edwin Diaz hits free agency at a lucrative time
Next year’s free agent class will feature several notable closers. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Craig Kimbrel all hit the open market. We can include Corey Knebel in there, too. He is spending this season rebuilding his stock with the Philadelphia Phillies.
While there is competition out there, Diaz is the youngest among them. With Josh Hader still under control by the Milwaukee Brewers, Diaz has a chance to establish himself as the highest-paid closer in the game. There’s a lot riding on his 2022 performance.
Diaz benefits from the Mets’ desire to win. Changing closers next year comes with the risk of absolutely blowing it and ending up with an unsavory option for the ninth inning. Ideally, we should expect the Mets to retain Diaz and maybe add one of the aging closers as a setup man. Think of the way the New York Yankees have brought in ex-closers into their bullpen in the past only to instead work the seventh or eighth inning.
Unless Diaz is absolutely abysmal, the Mets will make some effort to retain him. Closers can fall off the wagon quickly and unless they hope to snag Hader in a trade or free agency the following winter, he’s going to be someone they seek to keep.
How much will it cost, though?
At a salary of $10.2 million in 2022, we can expect Diaz’s AAV to surge into the $15 million range at a minimum. When the Yankees signed Chapman, it was to a five-year deal worth $86 million. Likely out of the Mets’ budget—not that they can’t afford it, they just don’t seem like a regime to pay this much for a closer—a five-year deal worth $75-80 million might be as far as they’d go. Even that could be a stretch.
Something the Mets haven’t been shy about doing is removing players brought in by Brodie Van Wagenen. From free agent additions to draft picks, many of the players BVW brought to the organization have been let go or traded away for different faces. Diaz is one of the most notable. And while it shouldn’t be a final factor into his future fate with the Mets, it’s a trend we shouldn’t ignore.