Mets’ Edwin Diaz decision emphasizes Mariners’ trade victory

One of the biggest blockbusters in franchise history has looked surprisingly good for the Mariners
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Edwin Diaz was a top Mariners pitching prospect that seemed like he had the makings of a nasty, high powered righty. A move to the bullpen mid-year in 2016 skyrocketed him through the minors getting called up straight from Double-A as the 2016 Mariners pushed towards the playoffs. He absolutely took the league by storm after a dominant 2016 and very solid 2017. He even got Cy Young Award votes for one of the better closer seasons we have seen in 2018, throwing 73.1 innings with a 1.96 ERA and an absurd 15.2 K/9 to 2.1 BB/9.

That offseason, the Mariners sort of blew things up and made one of the biggest trades in franchise history that upset quite a bit of fans, but also brought a lot of excitement with it. The Mariners were still on the hook for a large chunk of Robinson Cano's 10YR/$240M contract that set a franchise record at the time. To get out of that contract, the Mariners dealt the star closer and the second baseman to the New York Mets for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista; they also got a couple of exciting prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn.

The Mariners won the Edwin Diaz trade with the Mets

Diaz had a terrible first season with the Mets, with a 5.59 ERA before putting up another solid season with a 1.75 ERA. He had another solid 2021 before a monstrous 2022 season with a 1.31 ERA over 62 innings put him in the top 10 in Cy Young voting and resulted in the Mets rewarded him with a five-year, $102 million contract. Unfortunately for Diaz, in the offseason, he would suffer a major injury during the World Baseball Classic, tearing his patellar tendon in his right knee.

There seems to be some carry over of that injury coming into 2024 as Diaz has throwing 18 innings, with a 5.50 ERA. Though his walk (3.5 BB/9) and strikeout (13.5 K/9) are still solid to elite, his home run rate is more than double his career average while his average fastball velocity is down from 99.1 mph in 2022 to 96.9 mph in 2024.

Because of these struggles, Diaz was recently demoted from the closer role, as the Mets will go with the "closer by committee" approach. This is unfortunate, as DIaz was one of the most electric and exciting Mariners players and current pitchers in the game. As a Mariners fan, Diaz was aways great to watch and seemed like he truly loves what he does; you have to feel for someone struggling this much.

When looking at this trade, it really seems more of a lose-lose type of trade that both teams hope to avoid. However, when you really examine it, this is a huge win for the Mariners because of the financial implications at play.

For the Mariners, they got Bruce, Swarzak, Kelenic, Dunn and Kelenic, all who combined for about 2-2.5 WAR. For those couple of wins, the Mariners paid them approximately a combined $27 million. On the flip side, the Mets have been able to get 4.5 wins out of Edwin Diaz and one win out of Cano. For those 5.5 wins, the Mets have had to pay $105 million and are still on the hook for nearly $70 million of Diaz's contract.

There is still a very good chance that Diaz can bounce back and at least be a solid reliever, but paying any reliever the kind of money he is getting is just mindboggling, especially given the Mariners track record of finding a developing these types of arms on a consistent basis. The fact that Diaz was recently demoted from the closer role, emphasizes the volatility of relievers and how good of a move this was for Dipoto, even if it didn't return an All-Star level player back.

The other factor that comes into play with this trade is the domino effect. The original contract that Cano signed would have entered the last year of the deal in 2023, finally clearing that albatross of the books. If the Mariners weren't able to get out from under that deal, would they have been able to acquire and extend Luis Castillo? What about extending Julio to a contract that will likely make him a Mariner for life? It's possible none of it happens, making this a big win for the Mariners.