Just four months into his first season with the Mets, ballyhooed winter acquisition Edwin Diaz has already emerged a potential trade chip amid a disappointing campaign. The Braves, Dodgers, Rays and Blue Jays are among the teams in on the right-handed closer, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Andy Martino of SNY.tv passes along different information on the Braves, tweeting there’s “no traction” on Diaz to Atlanta.
The fact that Atlanta, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay are rumored to have interest in Diaz isn’t a shock. They’re all contending teams that are known to be in the market for bullpen help. The inclusion of rebuilding Toronto looks especially intriguing on paper, though it’s possible Diaz wouldn’t ever throw a pitch for the Blue Jays. The club could instead acquire Diaz and flip him to the Braves – one of the Mets’ division rivals – for prospects, according to Puma.
It’s the latest creative trade idea involving Diaz, whom the Mets are reportedly considering putting in a package with righty starter Zack Wheeler before Wednesday’s deadline. But whether anyone will even be able to pry Diaz out of New York is up in the air. Diaz was rookie general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s signature offseason addition, so BVW has predictably indicated it would take an enormous return for the Mets to deal him away so soon.
Van Wagenen, for his part, surrendered two of the game’s top prospects – outfielder Jarred Kelenic and righty Justin Dunn – in a package for Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano. The Mets also took on $100MM of Cano’s remaining money to get Diaz, but the trade has blown up in the non-contending club’s face so far. The typically great Cano may be deteriorating at the age of 36, while Diaz hasn’t been able to match his otherworldly 2018 swan song in Seattle.
The hard-throwing Diaz arrived in New York as a celebrated bullpen savior after closing 57 of 61 opportunities, posting a 1.96 ERA/1.61 FIP and logging 15.22 K/9 against 2.09 BB/9 in 73 1/3 innings last season. The Mets’ version has been lit up for a 4.81 ERA over 39 1/3 frames and blown as many saves as he did last season (in 35 fewer chances). The home run ball has been a major concern this year for Diaz, who yielded HRs on a career-best 10.6 percent of flies in 2018. That figure has shot to a personal-worst 17.9 percent this season as his groundball numbers have fallen precipitously.
Even factoring in the difficulties Diaz has endured in 2019, there’s plenty to like – including his 97 mph heat, pre-2019 track record and the 3.50 FIP, 13.96 K/9 and 2.97 BB/9 he has logged this season. Diaz has also suffered from poor luck, it seems, evidenced in part by a .407 batting average on balls in play against and a wide gap between the .336 weighted on-base average/.271 xwOBA that hitters have recorded off him.
Diaz may be a prime candidate for a turnaround, which – coupled with his team control – helps make him extremely attractive to the Mets and other clubs. The 25-year-old’s earning just over $600K this season and will go through the first of three potential trips through arbitration over the winter. However, whether he’ll do so as a Met or as a member of another team is now surprisingly in question.