5) Signing Edwin Diaz to a five-year deal
There's a chance that Billy Eppler's signing of Edwin Diaz to a five-year, $102 million contract ends up looking bad in retrospect, but even with the star closer's unforeseeable fluke injury that kept him out this past season, I don't think so.
Diaz was the best closer in baseball in 2022, a dominant force that propelled the Mets to a 101-win season on the back of his untouchable stuff. Featuring a fastball that can hit 100 mph and a wipeout slider, Diaz may be the one player in Mets history that fans are most confident of when he enters the game.
Much like Bears fans used to slide to the edge of their seats when Devin Hester was set to return a punt, every Diaz appearance is like a double espresso shot to Mets fans. The sight of Diaz running in from the bullpen to the wailing trumpets of Narco is worth the price of his contract alone.
Diaz has been hard at work rehabbing his injured knee, and there was a thought that he could have returned this year if the Mets were in contention during the stretch run. With another six months to prepare for next season, he should be back to his old self when Opening Day rolls around.
It would be easy to forget that Diaz's first season in New York was a bust. Many thought playing on the big stage was too much for the former Mariners closer, and the prevailing thought was that Seattle had stolen star prospect Jarred Kelenic from the Mets in exchange for Diaz and an over-the-hill Robinson Cano.
Five years after that deal, that sentiment has completely swung. Kelenic has been slow to find his footing in the majors, and though Cano washed out, earning a year-long suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs before being released last year, Diaz has single-handedly won the trade for New York.
One need only look to this season to see how much Diaz means to the Mets. Without him, the bullpen nosedived, and the team won 26 fewer games, falling far short of the playoffs. His return next year will have Mets fans believing again.
Billy Eppler's legacy as Mets GM is a complicated one, especially in light of the current MLB investigation. However that turns out, though, these moves will make sure that history is kind to him in the end.