Edwin Díaz has many reasons to smile this winter. Not only is he the proud recipient of a five-year, $102 million contract — the richest ever for a relief pitcher — but he also signed the take care of the team he hoped would retain him and in the town where he desired to remain.
And as Díaz, the All-Star Mets closer, scanned social media before a video call with reporters on Thursday to officially announce the deal, he found yet another thing to brighten his day. He said he learned that it was the fourth anniversary of a seven-player trade that sent him, infielder Robinson Canó and money from Seattle to the Mets for a package that included Jay Bruce, an outfielder who last played in 2021, and outfielder Jarred Kelenic, a onetime hot prospect who has yet to search out his footing with the Mariners.
“I began laughing because I signed this past week, and 4 years ago I used to be getting traded to here, and now I’m signing the most important deal for a reliever,” Díaz said. “So I feel really completely satisfied, really blessed, and I can’t wait to begin the season again.”
The fourth anniversary of the deal that brought Díaz to Citi Field is definitely Saturday (Dec. 3). But the overall idea holds: After Díaz assumed he had found a house in Seattle during a breakout season at age 24 in 2018 when he led the majors in saves (57) and games finished (65), the Mariners as a substitute leveraged what they figured can be his best season to make an impact deal.
The reverberations of that day proceed to ripple out more from Díaz than from the marquee name within the deal (Canó) or the perfect prospect (Kelenic). Díaz has racked up 64 saves over the past two seasons (in 73 opportunities), finished 100 games and given his managers, Buck Showalter (in 2022) and Luis Rojas (2021), enormous comfort in the ultimate innings.
“Edwin has all the pieces we search for in a more in-depth,” Billy Eppler, the Mets’ general manager, said in formally announcing the deal Thursday. “After we take into consideration constructing teams that may really compete, having the variety of elite talent he possesses for a game’s most significant moment is critical. And his impact goes beyond his ability on the mound.”
Díaz was a strikeout machine in 2022 with a whiff rate of fifty.2 percent (235 batters faced, 118 strikeouts), the third-highest mark in major league history. He led all relief pitchers in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (17.1). The latter was the second-best rate in major league history over a full season, behind Aroldis Chapman’s 17.7 in 2014.
Díaz also set a Mets record in 2022 by reaching 100 strikeouts in 52⅓ innings pitched, which also trails only Chapman’s 2014 season for the most important league record.
Given the mutual desire to renew their partnership, Eppler and Díaz said the deal got here together quickly. Díaz said that the Mets phoned his agent inside a few weeks of their elimination within the playoffs by San Diego and that the talks went easily.
Díaz said what matters most to him regarding the trailblazing nature of his landmark deal is “considering I can assist all the fellows coming behind me.” He added, “I keep pushing the worth of relievers up, and I feel really completely satisfied about that.”
The closer, smiling some more, thanked the Mets owner Steven A. Cohen in addition to Eppler and Showalter “for trusting me, supporting me.” He added: “I thank all of the fans for his or her support also. And lastly, I thank the writers for giving me the award for Good Guy. I feel really completely satisfied. I can’t wait to get that trophy.”
He was referencing his having won the annual Good Guy Award, which is presented on the Recent York Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner in January to the player who deals best with the local news media.
Between every now and then, Díaz might be hard at work. He said he began throwing three weeks ago in preparation for the 2023 season, which the Mets, with a roster still under winter construction, will enter with high hopes and massive expectations.