The top free-agent closer in MLB is off the market before it can even open.
Edwin Diaz is returning to the Mets on a record-setting contract, according to multiple reports Sunday, including by Newsday’s Tim Healey. The deal is pending a physical and has not been announced by the club.
Diaz could have officially looked elsewhere beginning Thursday, when players can begin signing with other teams, but instead he took hardly any time during the Mets’ exclusive negotiating window to agree to a return. The five-day window opened after the conclusion of the World Series on Saturday.
Once the agreement is announced, it will mark a wild start to an offseason that will be dominated by rumors about several superstars. Just not Diaz.
Edwin Diaz contract details
The Mets are rewarding Diaz handsomely for being a premier late-inning reliever. New York has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $102 million contract with the 28-year-old right-hander. That works out to a $20.4 million average annual value.
Also in the contract, according to Healey, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal: a $12 million signing bonus, a $20 million club option for 2028, an opt-out after the 2025 season and a full no-trade clause.
The AAV would be a record by more than $2 million per year, surpassing White Sox closer Liam Hendriks’ $18 million AAV. NL saves leader Kenley Jansen made $16 million with the Braves this year and is a free agent this offseason.
Diaz is doubling his salary with this agreement: he made $10.2 million in 2022 in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
Is the Edwin Diaz contract a good deal for the Mets?
The Mets are spending big on a position that other clubs have filled with pitchers making a fraction of Diaz’s new salary. But few teams got the type of production Diaz provided in 2022.
He posted 32 saves, fourth in the National League, a 1.31 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 62 innings with his mix of 100-mph fastball and low-90s wipeout slider.
Re-signing Diaz is the first step in reconstructing New York’s bullpen. Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Joely Rodriguez, Trevor May, Trevor Williams and Tommy Hunter are all free agents. How many of those hurlers will be back to help build the bridge to Diaz?
And what does the deal mean for paying the rotation? Only Max Scherzer and his $43.3 million AAV are guaranteed to return in 2023. Jacob deGrom can opt out, Chris Bassitt will reportedly decline his mutual option, Carlos Carrasco has a club option and Taijuan Walker has a player option.
All told, up to 15 Mets, including Diaz, could become free agents this week. General manager Billy Eppler told reporters last month (per the New York Daily News) that he wanted to speak with Diaz, deGrom and center fielder Brandon Nimmo before the opening of the market. It appears the discussions with Diaz were quite fruitful.