The hopes of an Edwin Díaz late-season return in 2023 have officially been put to bed.
Anthony DiComo reported today that, while continuing to throw bullpen sessions through the end of the year, Díaz will not return to in-game action for the Mets this season. The team did not want to create any risk for their star closer in what is clearly a lost season.
Díaz, who re-signed with the Mets in the offseason for $102 million over five years, the biggest contract for a relief pitcher in the history of the sport. This came on the heels of an All-Star season for Díaz, which saw him win the National League Reliever of the Year Award and make the All-MLB First Team.
In the 2023 preseason, Díaz participated in the World Baseball Classic tournament, playing for Team Puerto Rico. After closing out a game against the Dominican Republic to send Puerto Rico to the quarterfinals, Díaz suffered a patellar tendon tear during the celebration that required surgery.
The patellar tendon recovery time was a lengthy six-to-eight months, which made his return in 2023 a long shot from the jump. But he seemed to be making great strides in recovery, which created the possibility of a late season return.
In the end, however, the Mets were 8.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot going into the last two weeks of the season, rendering them all but officially eliminated. With that in mind, the Mets put an end to the Díaz dream, preferring him to be safe from a number of in-game risks that could jeopardize him for next season as well.
In 2024, the Mets will need their star closer to be back to form to help their chances. The 2023 Mets bullpen has a 4.53 ERA, 23.4% K%, 1.25 HR/9, and a total of -0.1 fWAR. They desperately need Díaz, who in 2022 had a 1.31 ERA, 50.2 K%, 0.44 HR/9, and a 3.0 fWAR, to be even close to his career highs to be able to aim for postseason contention.