At this point, Edwin Diaz is who he is. And he’s burned the New York Mets often enough that it’s clearly time for a change.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
The Mets‘ form of insanity will be expecting their closer, Edwin Diaz, 26, to return to his 2018 form — when he recorded 57 saves as a Seattle Mariner and won the AL Reliever of the Year award.
Right now Mets fans believe the only thing that can save them from this insanity is the suspension of the 2020 MLB season (that’s only somewhat a joke).
One week into the 2020 season the Mets sit at 3-4, but they could very well be 6-1. Diaz owns a 7.71 ERA, which he can put on his resume next to his abysmal 2019 season where he had a 5.59 ERA with seven blown saves. It is worth bringing up Diaz’s historic meltdown on Sept. 3, 2019, against the Nationals?
In December 2018, the Mets traded MLB.com’s No. 11 ranked prospect Jarred Kelenic, and their top pitching prospect Justin Dunn, along with Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista, for Diaz and 36-year-old Robinson Cano.
The Mariners added Diaz, who in 2018 tied an MLB record for second-most saves in a single season, and $20 million to the trade so they could finally get rid of Cano’s remaining five years and $120 million remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract.
Although it was well known that Cano was way past his prime, the trade didn’t seem that crazy because Diaz was considered one of the best closers in baseball, while making $571,000 and under the Mets’ control until 2022.
What went wrong for Edwin Diaz with the New York Mets?
But the trade has gone terribly wrong. Kelenic looks like a star in the making and Diaz has given up 37 earned runs in the ninth inning or later since joining the Mets — the most given up by any pitcher in the majors during that time frame. Not to mention, Cano is a shell of what he once was.
The Diaz trade was the first move made by Brodie Van Wagenen, 46, as the Mets’ general manager. Van Wagenen then followed up the trade by signing IF Jed Lowrie, 36, to a two-year, $20 million contract and brought back relief pitcher Jeurys Familia, 30, for three years, $30 million to be Diaz’s set-up man.
In 2019 Lowrie had seven at-bats and Familia had 5.70 ERA in 66 games. While on the other side of town, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman signed IF D.J. LeMahieu (who was fourth in 2019 MVP voting) to a two-year, $24 million contract, along with relief pitchers Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton to a three-year, $27 million contract and a three-year, $39 million deal.
It’s fair to say that Van Wagenen is on the hot-seat even after one year. Diaz returning to his 2018 form may save Van Wagenen’s job despite what happens with Lowrie and Familia. But what won’t save Van Wagenen’s job is running Diaz on the mound time after time again and reminding Met fans that this could go down as one of the worst trades in franchise history.
But you know what will save Van Wagenen’s job? Winning. And as it looks right now, the less Diaz pitches, the more the Mets will win. If the Mets start to win nobody will care how the Diaz trade panned out.
Where can the Mets go from here? One of the newest Mets, Dellin Betances, 32, was decent for the Yankees when he had to step into the closer role, but he’s had most of his success as a set-up man. Also, his velocity isn’t where it once was before his 2019 injury.
Justin Wilson, 32, had a solid 2019 with the Mets but he’s never been a full-time closer in his career. Familia closed for the Mets en route to winning 2015 NL Pennant, but as mentioned his stuff isn’t close to what it was then. Then there’s Seth Lugo, 30, the best arm in the Mets’ bullpen, but many believe Lugo is best utilized as a middle reliever and there have been talks of him being moved into the starting rotation.
None of these options are Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, but at this point, nothing can be worse than Diaz. What do the Mets have to lose?
If the Mets continue this insane trajectory, then it may be wise to add a booing soundtrack at Citi Field since the cardboard cutouts can’t create sound effects — even though many of the faces on those cardboard cutouts are probably booing the heck out of their television sets.