Yesterday, Edwin Diaz signed a record breaking contract for a relief pitcher for 5 years, $102 Million with the Mets. Let's talk about it...
Well, this is one heck of a way to start the day after the day after the World Series. Yesterday it was all about who was automatically going to become a free agent while some players opted out of contracts and teams exercised options today. And then the first rumor of this news came out of nowhere. I can't remember another offseason in recent memory where a player of Diaz's caliber, nonetheless the top player at his position, signed so early in the offseason.
The past few years, the offseason and the "hot stove league" have burned at a low simmer before it seems like a grease fire just explodes in the kitchen and all everything breaks loose. That will probably happen again this year, but for now, the grease fire's already going.
So, here are my thoughts:
Edwin Diaz was never going to leave New York. He was also never going to become a Yankee. All of the pundits that said that this side of the city was a prime spot for him to go are just talking out of their mouths. They know nothing. (As do I. I have no clue. I have no inside sources, but I can guestimate with the rest and the best of them.)
It also would not have been wise for the Yankees to get involved with Diaz. Especially not if this was going to be the price tag. They just wasted $30 Million between Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton. What good were they this season?
I've said this before and I'll say it again: The Yankees have no need to spend on relief pitching. It is the one thing that Brian Cashman does very well. He knows who to target and who to convert. He's been very good at this.
Getting and paying big for a reliever is a late-stage team building type move. It's the move that a team with few holes makes to give themselves some comfort in the back. The Yankees are not that team right now.
But Flushing ("Queens") was never going to be without Diaz. He became a player there this year. Last year was okay. 2020 was great (in a small sample). 2019 was a disaster and a learning year. He's gotten over that and has received the honor of having his own walk-out song.
Credit to Timmy Trumpet for any influence he had on getting that song attached to Diaz. He now has work for the next 5 years in New York. This is a win for him.
People were expecting Diaz to get around the $20 Million mark per year. This seems to have been a consensus contract offer for what Diaz was going to end up with. It's an overpay, but it doesn't feel too bad given projections.
I wonder if this will inspire other negotiations to be the same way. Will other free agents be willing to settle at the "consensus value" if it gets offered to them immediately?
It also helps that the Mets gave him the expected deal while they still had sole negotiating power. They used the system to their advantage. Credit to them.
Steve Cohen also has the money to spend. A high-end reliever making a few million more per year than another high-end reliever is nothing to him. He's a Mets fan through and through and I'm pretty sure with his wealth he'd be fine with running a red payroll for a few years if it meant a World Series banner or two. (Which would also likely flip that payroll back green with merchandising and ticket sales and increased prices for ads, etc.)
The Yankees should take a note of this playbook, especially if they are targeting the same guys as the Mets. The Yankees have been SLOW to work on deals in recent years. The Mets just made a deal in less than 2 complete offseason days. Their other interests may also be quickly signed away too. The Yankees cannot let one contract/player get in their way if they are interested in playing in the free agent market. Don't let Aaron Judge control the contract talks. Play ball with other free agents. If this is how the Mets are going to do it, you don't want to be the ones missing out.