Thursday Thought: 1 not-so-obvious extension candidate

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One
Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One / Elsa/GettyImages

The New York Mets have a few guys worthy of contract extensions in the near future. Brandon Nimmo, Chris Bassitt, and Pete Alonso are the trio of obvious extension candidates, but there’s another player the Mets should consider extending as well.

The Mets should offer Edwin Diaz a contract extension.

Diaz has been absolutely filthy this year. In 11 appearances and innings, he’s allowed just five hits, two earned runs (both solo homers), five walks, and struck out 19 batters. His ERA is 1.64, his FIP is 3.35, his WHIP is 0.91, and his ERA+ is 233.

Diaz has reduced the amount of hard contact he is giving up. Last year, 21.3% of the batted balls against him were considered hard hits. This year, only it’s down to 16.7%. He is also inducing more soft contact, up from 17.6% last year to 33.3% this year.

If you want to see a fun Baseball Savant page, Diaz’s is one to marvel at. He’s only got one blue dot, which is his walk rate. Other than that, he only has one other category below the 92nd percentile, which is his fastball spin rate in the 74th percentile. He has five categories in the 100th percentile (xBA, xSLG, strikeout rate, whiff rate, and chase rate).

Diaz currently has a stuff+ of 126, which ranks 31st in baseball. Stuff+ is a newer metric that takes into account velocity, movement, spin rate, release point, and extension and compares it to other pitchers. It is similar to OPS+ or ERA+ in that 100 is average. With a Stuff+ of 126, Diaz’s stuff is 26% better than average.

Diaz just turned 28 in March, so even though he’s been around for what feels like forever, he’s still in his prime for a couple of years. There are other closers available this winter, such as Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel, and Corey Knebel, but Diaz is the youngest of the bunch and has the most upside. 

The Mets should make an effort to keep him around, the question is, how much dough are they willing to pay Diaz? Chapman got a five-year deal worth $86 million from the Yankees a few years ago at roughly the same age, so I think it’s fair to say that Diaz will be looking to match or exceed that. His youth and utter dominance say that he’s worth it, but the volatility of relief pitchers is certainly a concern, as we saw with him in 2019. It will be interesting to see how the Mets handle this situation.

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