The Mets’ answer to their sudden closing issue is as easy as checking out the Diaz family tree. And they don’t even have to pay the $100 for 23andMe, either. They should look no further than the Cincinnati Reds roster, where they’ll find injured star Edwin Diaz’s kid brother Alexis.
Alexis isn’t Edwin — who is? — but he has a lot going for him, even beyond the five years of control left before he’s a free agent, which in itself is big.
Most don’t know too much about Alexis beyond the family tie and the tears he shed watching his brother go down as Team Puerto Rico’s triumphant closer in an aborted WBC quarterfinal celebration following the victory over the Dominican Republic. Alexis had a big 2022, too, but he started as an unknown 12th-round draft choice who originally signed for $130,000 and rose for a team that remains mostly a mystery to a vast majority of fans outside western Ohio and northern Kentucky.
1. He has closer stuff.
2. He has some closing experience at the big-league level.
3. He’s only 25 and missed two years (one for Tommy John and one like all minor leaguers for COVID), so there’s plenty of potential and mileage to go.
4. He presumably would be thrilled to take Edwin’s spot in his season of need and even more thrilled to team up with him over the following four years, which coincidentally coincides with his big brother’s relief record $102 million contract.
5. He might even consent to befriending Timmy Trumpet and “borrowing” Edwin’s entrance song “Narco,” which we were all expecting to miss terribly.
6. And this is the big one. He’s presumably available (at the right price, of course).
It’s hard to imagine there’s another team willing to give up a talented, proven and uninjured closer on the cusp of the regular season, much less a relation to our fallen hero. Say what you want about Reds ownership but their front office has to know this isn’t their year.
Of course, Reds higher-ups also value Diaz — who limited opposing batters to a ridiculous .131 average last year, saved 10 games and is affordable (even by their standards) at just over the $720,000 minimum. They also have to understand the desperation of the Mets. This isn’t just a small setback.
“It’s going to be tough. We lost the best closer in the game,” Team USA member Jeff McNeil said before expressing faith in the holdovers.
“We’re going to miss him. We’re going to miss him on the field but we’re going to miss him in the clubhouse,” Team USA member Pete Alonso said of Edwin Diaz. “It’s extremely unfortunate. We’re still going to be an incredible ballclub.”
At these prices, they better be.
As we well know by now, this is the very first $364 million roster in major league history. And it’s a better idea to take a chance trading the wrong prospect than risk wasting it by being unable to close out games that should be won.
From here, the roster generally looks worthy of the $364 million outlay — now $344 million with Diaz out — with one obvious exception. It’s no surprise Mets people will stiffen their upper lip and tell you now that they intend to go with David Robertson as closer, and indeed, that’s probably the likelihood.
Big trades are rarely made this time of year. And Mets people now guard their prospects like gold. Mets general manager Billy Eppler didn’t immediately return a text, and let’s hope he’s working on this trade (but I’m not too confident he is).
I’m also hearing some dissenting opinion from Mets-connected folks who point out that while Alexis has the same DNA, they aren’t the same person (that was true of Hank and Tommie Aaron, older folks may recall). They also mention Cincinnati isn’t New York, Alexis got hit in the WBC and even Edwin needed two years to adjust and become the game’s best closer in Queens.
Most likely, the Mets may also have gotten wind of the prospect price tag, which has to be high. They surely do not want to trade Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty or maybe even spring sensation Ronny Mauricio.
But the Mets do have prospects. They had five high picks last year, and folks like those picks, especially the catcher Kevin Parada, the 11th overall pick in last year’s draft out of Georgia Tech who can really hit.
The Mets’ current plan seems to be to hope that Robertson, with his 157 career saves, can tough it out. And maybe he can. He has average stuff now but gigantic cojones. So maybe that works.
But maybe not.
There’s nothing worse than a great team being undone by its inability to finish games. The Braves had three Hall of Famers in their rotation (one more than the Mets have now) for a decade, and only won one World Series because they never got a closer until they moved one of those Hall of Famers into the closing role. We don’t want to see the Mets resort to anything that drastic. The best and easiest solution would be to just bite the bullet on the prospects and bring in Eddie’s little brother.