Mets’ Closer Feels ‘Really Blessed’ as He Discusses New Deal

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 — but he also signed the deal with the team he hoped would retain him and in the city where he wanted to remain.

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

“I started laughing because I signed this past week, and four years ago I was getting traded to here, and now I’m signing the biggest deal 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 (Dec. 3). But the general idea holds: After Díaz assumed he had found a home in Seattle during a breakout season at age 24 in 2018 when he led the majors in saves (57) and games finished (65), the Mariners instead leveraged what they figured would be his best season to make an impact deal.

The reverberations of that day continue to ripple out more from Díaz than from the marquee name in the deal (Canó) or the best prospect (Kelenic). Díaz has racked up 64 saves over the past two seasons (in 73 opportunities), finished 100 games and given his managers, Buck Showalter (in 2022) and Luis Rojas (2021), enormous comfort in the final innings.

“Edwin has everything we look for in a closer,” Billy Eppler, the Mets’ general manager, said in formally announcing the deal Thursday. “When we think about building teams that can really compete, having the type of elite talent he possesses for a game’s most important moment is critical. And his impact goes beyond his ability on the mound.”

Díaz was a strikeout machine in 2022 with a whiff rate of 50.2 percent (235 batters faced, 118 strikeouts), the third-highest mark in major league history. He led all relief pitchers in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (17.1). The latter was the second-best rate 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 trails only Chapman’s 2014 season for the major league record.

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Closer entrances have been re-energized this season by Edwin Díaz of the Mets. On Wednesday, Díaz got a live rendition of “Narco” by the musician Timmy Trumpet.

Here is look at some of the best entrances. Try not to get too fired up →

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Edwin Díaz

Díaz has been a sensation this season, and coming out to “Narco” by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet has been a big part of that. Wednesday’s live performance at Citi Field took it up a notch.

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Félix Bautista

If entrance songs should intimidate an opponent, Bautista picked a perfect choice with a recording of Omar’s whistle from HBO’s “The Wire.” The flashing lights at Camden Yards seal the deal.

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Mariano Rivera

That the best closer in baseball history has arguably the best entrance is fitting. Rivera came out to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring over the speakers at Yankee Stadium and opponents went to sleep.

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Trevor Hoffman

Cursed with a career overlapping with Rivera’s, Hoffman was among the best relievers in baseball history, and when “Hells Bells” by AC/DC played over the speakers in San Diego, fans knew what was coming.

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Éric Gagné

That Gagné would jog out to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses was cool enough on its own, but Dodger Stadium having its scoreboards flash “Game Over” put this one over the top.

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Jonathan Papelbon

The Red Sox have a knack for music at Fenway, and Papelbon’s entrances to “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys are right up there with “Sweet Caroline” and “Dancing on My Own.”

M.L.B.’s Best Closer Entrances

Benjamin Hoffman⚾️ Spending too much time on YouTube

Ricky Vaughn

Strictly speaking, Vaughn was not a real person. But the character in the “Major League” movies knew how to make an entrance, and X’s cover of “Wild Thing” was the perfect soundtrack.

Watch Vaughn’s entrance.

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