A few days ago, the New York Mets officially re-signed closer Edwin Díaz to a five-year deal worth $102 million, the largest contract ever for a reliever, by a wide margin. The details of Díaz’s contract are as follows:
- Díaz will receive a $12 million signing bonus, payable as of January 2023.
- Díaz will earn a salary of $17.25 million in both 2023 and 2024.
- He’ll make $17.5 million in 2025.
- The star reliever will have an $18.5 million player option for both 2026 and 2027, but must decide on both before the start of the 2026 season.
There’s also a tidbit about how the Mets can also exercise a sixth-year team option that would pay Díaz $17.25 million in 2028. Should they forego that option, New York would owe their closer a $1 million buyout.
Now, with a normal contract, this would be the end of the discussion, but this is the Mets we’re talking about. According to reports, the Amazins will also be paying Díaz $26.5 million between 2033 and 2042 on top of his $102 million (potentially $118.25 million) contract.
If this sounds like it has happened before, it’s because it has. In 2000, the Mets infamously offered to pay Bobby Bonilla’s $5.9 million contract over 25 years with eight percent interest starting in 2011, hoping that the money they invested in Bernie Madoff would pay off enormous dividends. Spoiler alert! It didn’t. The infamous Ponzi scheme fell apart, and in the 11 years since they released the outfielder, Bonilla’s $5.9 million contract rose in value to $29.8 million. The Metropolitans are still paying that contract off today, and will continue giving Bonilla just over $1.19 million every July 1 until 2035. It is widely considered one of the worst contracts in baseball history.
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Now, the circumstances surrounding this Díaz contract are different. Mets’ ownership isn’t heavily invested in some pyramid ploy as far as we know and there’s no promise of interest for Díaz, so the deferred payment arrangements should stay where they are through the length of the agreement. Still, why would the Mets feel the need to do this? Why not just pay Díaz in full? Maybe the Mets don’t want to spend more money right now. They’re already projected to have one of the highest payrolls in baseball, and adding that additional $26.5 million over the next five years ($5.3 million annually) would be too much for Steve Cohen. He has hinted that he doesn’t want to spend too much more than $300 million on next year’s team.
However, that only makes this contract marginally better for the Mets. It’s obviously a great deal for Díaz, who will continue to earn $2.65 million annually for a decade after he’s likely been retired for several years. Maybe the tradition of Bobby Bonilla had become so ingrained in Mets fandom that they couldn’t let the meme die. Bonilla’s contract ends in 2035, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Díaz’s deferred payments start just a tad earlier. New York will now owe former players money every year through 2042. No other team is in a remotely similar situation. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t think that’s an accident. This was planned. The Mets know it’s a bad deal, but they’re doing it anyway. That’s commitment to the bit, commitment to the Bonilla debacle, and if that’s truly the case, my respect for Steve Cohen just skyrocketed.