What’s next for the Mets after the wise signing of Edwin Diaz to a huge deal?

Edwin Diaz edited art two panels home pinstripes August 2022

The news was a surprise, and the deal was huge — historic, even. The Mets, just hours after their exclusive five-day free agent trading window opened, signed the star Edwin Diaz to a five-year deal worth $102 million.

The contract, which contains a full no-trade clause, an opt-out and a team option for a sixth season, is the longest ever given to a reliever in terms of both total dollars and average annual value.

But the Mets hitting fast and hard while giving Diaz that huge deal was no surprise. It was expected.

After the season ended, Diaz made no secret of his desire to return to the Mets, and the Mets repeatedly made no secret of their desire to keep him — something the GM reiterated Billy Eppler Last week.

Most praise the front office and the Mets owner Steve Cohen for their swift, decisive action on Diaz, and I am part of that chorus.

Yes, there is risk when it comes to giving a reliever a shade over $20 million a year for five years.

But the Mets didn’t give that deal to someone who appears to be in danger of regressing. They gave it to a 28-year-old (Diaz will be 29 in March) who is at the peak of his powers and coming off one of the most dominant seasons ever by a reliever.

And Diaz’s dominance in 2022 (and, really, since 2020) is supported as real by “regular” stats and just about every advanced stat you can find. It really is.

Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz

Is there a chance that Diaz’s stuff will decline a bit near the end of his contract and he won’t be the absolute danger on the mound that he has been for the past three seasons? Sure. But the deal was still an indifferent one.

It should also be noted that Diaz will enter the age of 33 during the fifth and final guaranteed year of this contract. This is too far up the hill for closer. Look at Kenley Jansenwho was fantastic during his age-33 and age-34 seasons in 2021 and 2022.

With Diaz back in the fold, the Mets have added backs to a bullpen that will be in high flux this offseason, with Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Adam Ottavino, Joely Rodriguezand Trevor Williams among the free players.

The Mets still have a lot of work to do, but completing the Diaz deal quickly removes a huge part of their offseason agenda and allows them to focus on what’s next. And what follows will not involve the need to find a new closer

So what is Next?

In an article published Thursday, I ranked who I thought the Mets’ top 10 free agent targets should be this offseason. Diaz was the No. 1 pick and I predicted that could mean a $100 million contract over five years.

Do I follow Diaz on my list? Trea Turner in No. 2, Jacob deGrom in No. 3, and Brandon Nimmo at No. 4.

New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) celebrates his solo home run against the Washington Nationals with teammates in the dugout during Game 4 at Citi Field.

New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) celebrates his solo home run against the Washington Nationals with teammates in the dugout during Game 4 at Citi Field.

Whether or not the Mets will pursue Turner (or if he would be open to playing second base regularly) remains to be seen. But they can’t chase him for another three days. So it won’t be the immediate target.

Meanwhile, SNY’s Andy Martino reported in the days before Diaz signed that the Mets were prioritizing Diaz and Nimmo over all of their other internal free agents, with Martino adding that it was in no way a comment on the deGrom’s status.

Can Nimmo be signed before the Mets’ five-day exclusive window ends?

Anything is possible, especially if the Mets are aggressive and offer a deal that Nimmo’s agent, Scott Boras, he believes will be the best Nimmo can find on the open market. But Boras’ clients rarely get this close to free agency without trying, so expect Nimmo to hit the market and the Mets to maintain their desire to bring him back.

Nimmo, as a terrific offensive player turned plus center, is a rare commodity. And there really isn’t an adequate replacement elsewhere in the free agent market. The Mets know this.

What about deGrom?

In recent weeks, two of deGrom’s former teammates — Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard — discussed his free agency. Wheeler said deGrom told him he’s “happy” in New York, and Syndergaard said he’d be surprised if deGrom left.

October 8, 2022;  New York, New York, USA  New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) throws a pitch in the first inning during Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field.  Mandatory credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

October 8, 2022; New York, New York, USA New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) throws a pitch in the first inning during Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field. Mandatory credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Then last week, Mark Canha said deGrom told him he wants to come back and that he likes New York.

The above might mean nothing, but it wouldn’t make sense for deGrom to confide in current and former teammates that he wanted to return if he didn’t want to. Sure, I guess you can take the cynical view and say deGrom wouldn’t want the Mets out of contention if he didn’t want to stay. But deGrom wouldn’t have to go through current and former teammates to get that message across.

Either way, the biggest issue with the Mets’ pursuit of a deGrom reunion could be timing.

The Mets, barely Max Schercher guaranteed to be part of their starting rotation in 2023, they need a backup plan if deGrom leaves. And if deGrom delays it for months, those backup plans may not be available — Chris Bassitt included.

Beyond Nimmo and deGrom are other areas the Mets must address.

They would be wise to sign a DH who can hit both righties and lefties well and do so with power. And both happen Jose Abreu and JD Martinez they are free agents.

New York will also need to add some outside relief help, and there are some interesting arms out there, such as Robert Suarez and old friend Rafael Montero.

For now, the Mets can enjoy the fact that Diaz is back. But while re-signing Diaz removes a huge item from their to-do list, that list remains quite long.

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