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Closing the Deal - Mets Lock Down Edwin Díaz

Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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Closing the Deal - Mets Lock Down Edwin Díaz

So much for easing into the Hot Stove season. Just one day after the Astros dispatched of the Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series to secure their second World Series title in the last six seasons, the market already began to sizzle.

The Mets – who once again appear to be flush with cash and ready to spend – made the fist big splash of the 2022 offseason by locking up one of their own. They agreed to a five-year, $102 million contract to retain star closer Edwin Díaz and keep him from the free agent market.

Jeff Passan of ESPN adds that Passan adds that the long-term contract, which is pending a physical, includes a sixth-year option for the 2028 season that would run the deal to a total of $122 million. The contract also includes an opt-out after the third season and full no-trade clause.

It’s the largest contract ever given to a reliever in the history of Major League Baseball – both in terms of total dollars and average annual value. It surpasses the five-year, $86 million deal that Aroldis Chapman received from the Yankees back in 2016. The $20 million average annual value tops the $18 million AAV that Liam Hendriks received from the White Sox. It’s hard to argue that Díaz isn’t deserving – he compiled a minuscule 1.31 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and ridiculous 118/18 K/BB ratio over 62 innings while recording 32 saves during the 2022 campaign.

The Mets primary focus for the offseason will be their starting rotation – with Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt already hitting free agency – and with Carlos Carrasco (team option) and Taijuan Walker (player option) still up in the air. Knowing that their ninth inning is already taken care of with one of the best in the game – now allows Steve Cohen and company to turn all of their attention to building the front end of that pitching staff. That should start with giving right-hander Jacob deGrom whatever he wants to remain in New York.

Even with Díaz in the fold, the Mets will have work to do in the bullpen this winter. Adam Ottavino, Joely Rodríguez, Tommy Hunter, Seth Lugo, Trevor May and Trevor Williams are all hitting the open market – and Mychal Givens (mutual option) could join them as well.

From a fantasy perspective, not much changes in relation to the Mets star closer. Díaz remains one of the best closers in the business and he’ll continue to be the sole ninth-inning option for what’s expected to be one of the better teams in the National League. He’s being drafted as a truly elite option in early fantasy drafts, going as the top closer -- and eighth pitcher overall -- with an average draft position just outside the top 30 picks overall. It’s a steep price to pay for sure, but given the reliability and the immense strikeout upside, it could be worthwhile.

Braves acquire Sam Hilliard from Rockies

While the Mets made the biggest move on Sunday, other clubs in the National League East were working as well. The Braves were active on the trade market, acquiring toolsy outfielder Sam Hilliard from the Rockies in exchange for minor league right-hander Dylan Spain.

Hilliard, 28, has long been a favorite of fantasy baseball managers due to his dynamic combination of power and speed – and the fact that he was set to be an everyday player at Coors Field in Colorado. While he has terrorized minor league pitching throughout his career though, things have never quite come together for him at the big league level – slashing a disappointing .212/.294/.423 with 29 homers, 71 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 639 plate appearances throughout parts of four seasons.

We’ll have to wait and see how the off-season shakes out for the Braves before determining what Hilliard’s outlook will be. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Michael Harris II will certainly lock down 2/3 of the outfield on a nightly basis as long as they are healthy, which will leave left field – and possibly the designated hitter spot – for other outfielders to cycle in. In a best case scenario, Hilliard would land on the strong side of a platoon in left field, getting spelled against left-handed pitching. Keep in mind though, Eddie Rosario signed a two-year deal prior to the 2022 season and will be fighting for that exact role while Marcell Ozuna is under contract for two more seasons as well. There’s also talk of potentially moving Vaughn Grissom to the outfield as he’s blocked by Ozzie Albies at second base. Something will have to give. That’s not to say that Hilliard can’t be effective in that role, but fantasy managers shouldn’t necessarily assume that he’ll have a regular role heading into the 2023 season.

For the Rockies, they land a 24-year-old right-hander in Spain who was a 10th round selection from the 2021 draft. Through his first two minor league seasons, he has posted a 4.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 81/15 K/BB ratio over 73 2/3 innings in 47 appearances (seven starts) – spending the entire 2022 season at High-A Rome. They also clear a spot on their 40-man roster which could be used to protect an additional player in December’s Rule 5 draft.

Carlos Rodón Officially Opts Out

It seemed to be a foregone conclusion, but Carlos Rodón officially exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with the Giants on Sunday afternoon.

The 29-year-old left-hander didn’t see quite the market that he should have after his brilliant 2021 campaign with the White Sox – with the fact that he wasn’t even offered a qualifying offer leading many to believe that the health of his shoulder was a much bigger issue than he was letting on. He wound up signing a two-year, $44 million contract with the Giants and then went out and absolutely dominated yet again.

Rodón made 31 starts for the Giants, going 14-8 with an outstanding 2.88 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 237/52 K/BB ratio across 178 innings of work. Now, he’ll head back to the free agent market – with no lingering concerns about his health – and as the top left-handed starting pitcher available. He’s going to land a far more lucrative deal than he did prior to the 2022 campaign. The Giants have already expressed interest in bringing him back, though there are going to be a lengthy list of suitors for them to contend with this time around.

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MLB Quick Hits: While contract terms may not be discussed yet and deals can’t officially be agreed upon until 5 PM EST on Thursday, the Hot Stove season officially kicked off on Sunday with 131 players officially becoming free agents… Alex Bregman was diagnosed with a broken left index finger – suffered during the eighth inning of Game 6 of the World Series. He won’t require surgery, but will need eight weeks to fully recover. He should be ready for the start of spring training… Cubs prospect Matt Mervis was named as the MVP of the Fall Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League… The White Sox are planning to pick up Tim Anderson‘s $12.5 million club option for the 2023 season according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post… Heyman also notes that the Mets plan to pick up Daniel Vogelbach‘s $1.5 million club option… The Twins are expected to exercise their $12.5 million option on right-hander Sonny Gray… The Nationals declined their $16 million mutual option on Nelson CruzChris Bassitt declined his $19 million mutual option from the Mets… Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic reports that the Twins are expected to decline their club options on Chris Archer, Miguel Sano and Dylan Bundy… The Nationals re-signed left-hander Sean Doolittle to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp… The Cardinals hired Matt Holliday to be their new bench coach…