Update on Edwin Diaz's injury: Mets closer injures right knee during Puerto Rico's WBC celebration
After recording the final out against D. R., Diaz was taken off the field. Imagery is scheduled for Thursday.
The 2023 MLB season will see the Mets without All-Star closer Edwin Diaz. Thursday's announcement by GM Billy Eppler that Diaz sustained a complete-thickness tear in the patellar tendon in the right knee after Puerto Rico's victory over the Dominican Republic in Wednesday's win-or go-home World Baseball Classic match. Diaz will undergo surgery on Thursday. The recovery time is usually eight months.
"In general, we don't have too many opportunities to stop a player from going (to the WBC). Eppler explained to the Washington Post that there are criteria that must be met in order for a player not to go to the WBC."When we are given that runway, it's ours, we've taken them. We took it with Marte (Starling). We objected to Marte because it was possible. But I won't get into the details.
Only certain injuries can be used to block players from the WBC. Marte was not allowed to play after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery. All of New York's starting infield players -- shortstop Francisco Lindor, first baseman Pete Alonso (USA), Jeff McNeil (USA), second baseman Jeff McNeil and second baseman Jeff McNeil both from the USA), third baseman Eduardo Escobar(Venezuela), third baseman Eduardo Escobar) -- are still playing in WBC. Adam Ottavino is also still playing in WBC. Ottavino could be the candidate to take over Diaz's position as closer.
Diaz recorded the final three runs in Puerto Rico's win over a dominating Dominican Republic team. He was not with his teammates and didn't celebrate excessively. He wasn't even caught at the bottom a dogpile, or anything like that. Diaz was just jumping around with his teammates when he felt his knee give out.
Other players have also suffered serious injuries at the WBC. One of them was Mark Teixeira, a New York Yankees first baseman who tore a tendon in the wrist while practicing with Team USA in 2013.It was a major setback for his season and required him to have season-ending surgery. Lefty Drew Smyly was then with the Seattle Mariners and suffered an elbow injury while playing for Team USA in 2017. He required Tommy John surgery.
Diaz, who turned 29 on March 22, signed a $52 million five-year contract last offseason. It is the largest ever reliever contract, both in terms of total guarantee and average annual value. Diaz is coming off a historic year that saw him post a 1.31 ERA (297 ERA+), and a 6.56 strikeouts-to-walk ratio over 62 innings. In his 61 appearances, Diaz also had 32 saves.
Although Diaz is a crucial part of the Mets' ninth inning lineup, they still have a veteran late-inning relief team that includes lefty Brooks Raley and David Robertson, an All-Star closer. However, the Mets recently lost righties Sam Coonrod and Bryce Montes de Oca to injuries. Their bullpen depth has been severely affected.
Zack Britton, who spent the past 25 years in Baltimore with Mets manager Buck Showalter, is still available as a free agent. He has been speculated to be a good fit for New York for several weeks. Mike Minor, Corey Knebel, Ken Giles, and Corey Knebel are also unsigned. It is difficult to trade for pitching in March. However, a rebuilding team may be willing a high-priced closer prior to Opening Day.
Major League Baseball players who participate in the WBC must be insured. The Mets will be compensated for Diaz's absence. Sometimes players have had to withdraw from the tournament because they couldn't get insurance. Clayton Kershaw, a lefty from the Los Angeles Dodgers, was reportedly one of these cases earlier in spring.
Ben Lindbergh, of The Ringer, crunched the numbers after the 2017 WBC to conclude that there was no evidence of an injury effect. This is especially true since well-populated tournaments are so much fun for fans and potentially beneficial for baseball in the long-term.
The Mets finished last season at 101-62, but lost to San Diego Padres in Wild Card Series. Steve Cohen, the owner, authorized a free agency spending spree which included Diaz's re-signing. This spending spree pushed the team’s payroll to well above $350 million. The club's competitive balance tax bill is expected to exceed $100 million.
The Mets are under immense pressure to win the 2023 World Series due to their payroll and luxury tax bill. Although Diaz's injury is unfortunate for the Mets, it is a significant blow to the team. However, the WBC is still a worthwhile endeavor.