During the final week of July, New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz entered the fray of trade talks alongside Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler.
As recently as Tuesday morning, it looked like he would be the most likely to be shipped out of town as the Mets engaged in talks with the Boston Red Sox while receiving additional interest from the Tampa Bay Rays.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen maintained his high asking price, which has remained constant across the trade board for Syndergaard and Wheeler, as well. Though it looks like Syndergaard won’t be going anywhere after taking the mound Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
The chances of Diaz staying put also increased last night, but not for good reasons.
New York’s closer blew his fifth save opportunity of the year, spoiling Syndergaard’s gem of an outing in which he didn’t allow a single earned run in 7.1 innings while striking out 11.
The nightmarish outing continued the 25-year-old’s struggles after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners over the winter. Last year, Diaz was baseball’s breakout star after leading the league with 57 saves while accruing a minuscule 1.96 ERA.
With the Mets, his ERA has ballooned to a heinous 5.05 while already allowing more hits (45) this year than he did in 32.1 more innings last year (41 in 73.1 IP).
It was the fashion in which he blew the Mets’ slim 2-1 lead in the ninth that was most puzzling. Diaz didn’t allow a single hit, but couldn’t find the strike zone as he gave up a walk, threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, and bounced a slider that resulted in a passed ball before a sacrifice fly forced extra innings.
What contender would pay up legitimate MLB-ready talent for that?
Diaz is a shell of what he was last season with the Mariners and Van Wagenen likely won’t get the kind of return that he was hoping for. It would almost be a surprise if Diaz was not a Met after the trade deadline because of that.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway will have to act fast, however, to ensure that Diaz can’t undermine what is now a very promising starting rotation. Seth Lugo has developed into the team’s most valuable bullpen arm and should be considered for the closer role. A demotion for Diaz could at least allow him to regain his form in less stressful situations.