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Edwin Diaz discusses new contract with Mets

Edwin Díaz has many reasons to smile this winter. Not only is he the proud recipient of a five-year, $102 million contract — the richest ever for a relief pitcher — he also signed the deal with the team he hoped to retain and in the city where he wanted to stay.

And as Díaz, the All-Star Mets closest, scanned social media ahead of a video call with reporters Thursday to formally announce the deal, he found one more thing to brighten his day. He said he learned it was the fourth anniversary of a seven-man trade that sent him, infielder Robinson Canó and Seattle money to the Mets for a package deal that included Jay Bruce, a outfielder who last played in 2021, and outfielder Jarred Kelenic. , a former prospect who has yet to find his footing with the Mariners.

“I started laughing because I signed last week, and four years ago I was traded here, and now I’m signing the biggest contract for a reliever,” Díaz said. “So I feel really happy, really blessed, and I can’t wait to start the season again.”

The fourth anniversary of the deal that brought Díaz to Citi Field is actually Saturday (December 3). But the general idea holds: After Díaz assumed he found a home in Seattle during a breakout season at age 24 in 2018 when he led the Majors in saves (57) and games completed (65), the Mariners instead leveraged what they thought would be his best season to land an impact deal.

The reverberations of that day continue to reverberate more on Díaz than on the name of the marquee in the transaction (Canó) or the best prospect (Kelenic). Díaz has racked up 64 saves over the past two seasons (on 73 occasions), finished 100 games and gave his managers, Buck Showalter (in 2022) and Luis Rojas (2021), huge comfort in the final innings.

“Edwin has everything we’re looking for in a reconciliation,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said when the deal was officially announced Thursday. “When we think about creating teams that can really compete, it’s essential to have the kind of elite talent that he has for the most important moment in a match. And his impact goes beyond his abilities on the mound.

Díaz was a strikeout machine in 2022 with a 50.2 percent smell rate (235 batters faced, 118 strikeouts), the third-highest mark in major league history. He led all relief pitchers in strikeouts and strikeouts in nine innings (17.1). The latter was the second best in major league history over a full season, behind Aroldis Chapman’s 17.7 in 2014.

Díaz also set a Mets record in 2022 by reaching 100 strikeouts in 52⅓ innings pitched, which also follows only Chapman’s 2014 season for the major league record.

Given the mutual desire to renew their partnership, Eppler and Díaz said the deal closed quickly. Díaz said the Mets called his agent a few weeks after they were eliminated in the playoffs by San Diego and the talks went well.

Díaz said what matters most to him about the pioneering nature of his historic deal is “to think that I can help all the guys that come behind me.” He added: “I keep increasing the value of relievers and I’m really happy about that.”

The closer, smiling a little more, thanked Mets owner Steven A. Cohen as well as Eppler and Showalter “for trusting me, for supporting me.” He added, “I also thank all the fans for their support. And finally, I thank the writers for giving me the award for A good boy. I feel really happy. I can’t wait to get this trophy.

He was referring to his victory the annual Good Guy awardwhich is presented at the New York Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner in January to the player who deals best with the local media.

Until then, Díaz will be at work. He said he started pitching three weeks ago in preparation for the 2023 season, which the Mets, with a roster still under construction for the winter, will enter with high hopes and expectations.

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