Red Sox Rumors: Edwin Diaz a trade deadline candidate
By Sean Penney
New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz would make sense for the Boston Red Sox to target as the MLB trade deadline approaches this week.
During ESPN’s broadcast of Sunday Night Baseball, Buster Olney reported that there is growing confidence that the Boston Red Sox will make an impactful deal before this week’s trade deadline. While this is pure speculation, one name Olney floated who would make a lot of sense is New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz.
His first season with the Mets hasn’t gone well for Diaz. He owns a 4.95 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 40 innings, both of which are significantly higher than what he produced in last year’s All-Star campaign.
Prior to this season, Diaz was among the best closers in baseball. He recorded a league-leading 57 saves for the Seattle Mariners in 2018 while posting a 1.96 ERA. His track record shows he’s a far better pitcher than what we’ve seen this year and a change of scenery may be what he needs to re-establish himself as a top-tier reliever.
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There’s also evidence that Diaz hasn’t pitched nearly as poorly as his numbers suggest. He’s converted 23 of 27 save opportunities for a reasonable 85.2% success rate. His 3.83 FIP is over a full run lower than his ERA. The weak Mets defense may partially explain why he’s allowing hits at twice the rate he did last season. Diaz still owns an elite 13.7 K/9 and has kept his walk rate below 3.0 BB/9.
The biggest issue for Diaz has been the home runs with a 1.8 HR/9 that nearly doubles his career rate. That appears to be a small sample size fluke in the process of regressing to the mean. Diaz has allowed only one home run in July and hasn’t blown a save this month.
Diaz would unquestionably be an upgrade at the back of the Red Sox bullpen. The biggest question is whether or not the Mets will trade him.
Don’t be fooled into thinking New York’s acquisition of Marcus Stroman means they are deadline buyers. The Mets are six games out of a Wild Card spot so the playoffs are a long shot. Stroman is part of their plans for next year’s rotation. Zack Wheeler seems unlikely to return and could be dealt at the deadline. The Mets have also been shopping Noah Syndergaard. They needed to add an arm for next year and trading for one now will strengthen their position as sellers. With one less starter on the market, the options the Mets can offer become more appealing.
While Diaz has been rumored to be on the trading block as well, there’s less incentive to move him. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and remains under team control until 2023. The Mets gave up a lot to get Diaz, surrendering two of their top prospects and agreeing to take on the remainder of Robinson Cano‘s albatross contract. It’s hard to see them bailing on Diaz after one down season unless they get a significant offer.
Olney followed up on his speculation on Monday with a suggestion of who the Red Sox could offer to headline a deal for Diaz. Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec are listed as the club’s top prospects by MLB.com and one of them would almost certainly be included.
Both third basemen are blocked for the foreseeable future by Rafael Devers and only one of them can be moved across the diamond to first base. Michael Chavis will also need to factor into the team’s long-term infield plans. There isn’t room for everyone so one could be used as trade bait.
Either of their top prospects would be a steep price for a team that already has a thin farm system but Diaz is worth it. He’s under team control for a few more years and his cheap pre-arbitration salary this season fits neatly into their budget below the top tier of luxury tax penalties. Boston is hesitant to give up their best prospects for a rental and they won’t cross over the next tax threshold, which makes Diaz the perfect target if he’s available.