Diaz centerpiece of Mets bullpen now

By Howie Mansfield, BBM Managing Editor

When the New York Mets completed a major trade last week, all eyes and discussion were on second baseman Robinson Cano. The Mets gave up on two rising prospects, first round picks Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, while also unloading salary with Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak. Cano's remaining $120 million and five years on his mega-deal contract from 2014 is another big hurdle for Mets fans to overcome. Fortunately the Mariners defrayed some of that money to make this deal more palatable.

The former Yankee and Mariner had recently been suspended 80 games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Cano revealed that he was dealing with medical ailments that lead to the suspension, but never admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. For the Mets to take a chance on Cano and his now slightly tarnished reputation, they had to know more about the events leading up to the suspension. The Mets took a chance on other players that violated league policy including Jose Reyes and Jeurys Familia for domestic violence, and Jenrry Mejia for PEDs. (Mejia is still awaiting full reinstatement from a lifetime ban.)
Diaz's Topps rookie card from 2016

But after all of the focus on Cano, the one diamond in all of this was Edwin Diaz. The former Mariners closer tallied an impressive 57 saves in 2018, including a 1.96 ERA. Diaz was a starting pitcher when he began in the Seattle minor league system, but made the change in 2016 while in Double-A. He quickly made the transition to the majors later that season, compiling 18 saves in 49 appearances.

Diaz will turn 25 just before the season begins. He is making $571,000 per season and won't be a free agent until after 2022. With Familia unable to close out the big games over his career, Diaz will be called upon to do that and competition will be good. The Mets eighth and ninth innings will be safe with recenty resigned Familia and newly minited closer Diaz.

The Mets are trying to reshape their bullpen. Diaz helps them immediately with a big arm (over 100mph) and the closer's moxy. Jacob deGrom, Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard must be overjoyed at the prospect of more wins in 2019. deGrom won the NL Cy Young with just 10 wins. Familia will be the ideal setup man, as he was before taking the closer's reigns with Mejia's suspension.

General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen claims he is not done reshaping these Mets, especially the bullpen. There's no doubt that if the Mets want to keep deGrom beyound 2019, getting Diaz was a monumental first step.

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