Edwin Dáz, the New York Mets’ All-Star closer, is set to miss the whole 2023 MLB season. On Thursday, General Manager Billy Eppler revealed that Daz had torn his right patellar tendon completely while celebrating on the field after Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic in Wednesday night’s World Baseball Classic game. Dáz will undergo surgery on Thursday, with an eight-month recuperation period typical.
“Generally speaking, we don’t have many chances to block a player as they move (to the WBC). There are requirements that must be fulfilled in order for a player to not travel, “Eppler discussed keeping players out of the WBC in an interview with the Washington Post. “We’ve already used the runway when it was offered to us. Together with (Starling) Marte, we took it. Due to our ability, we objected to Marte. Nevertheless, I don’t want to go into detail at this time.”
Clubs can only prevent players from competing in the WBC under particular injury circumstances, and Marte was held out after undergoing stomach surgery in the summer. All five members of New York’s starting infield — third baseman Eduardo Escobar (Venezuela), shortstop Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico), second baseman Jeff McNeil (USA), and first baseman Pete Alonso (USA) — are still competing in the WBC, along with setup man Adam Ottavino. Ottavino is a contender to take Dáz’s place as closer.
In an unexpected victory for Puerto Rico over a strong Dominican Republic team, Dáz recorded the final three outs. He and his colleagues weren’t overly jubilant, and they weren’t trapped in a dogpile or anything like that. Dáz’s knee appeared to give out as he was merely hopping around with his teammates.
At the WBC, other athletes have sustained serious injuries. Among them, Team USA batting practice participant Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees tore a tendon in his wrist in 2013. That ruined his season and ultimately necessitated season-ending surgery. In 2017, while pitching for Team USA, lefty Drew Smyly, who was then with the Seattle Mariners, injured his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.
Daz, who will turn 29 on March 22, got a five-year, $102 million contract in the summer. In terms of total guarantee and average annual value, it is the largest reliever contract in history. Daz just finished a spectacular season in which he logged 62 innings, a 1.31 ERA (297 ERA+), and a 6.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Over the course of 61 appearances, he also recorded 32 saves.
Edwin Diaz is a kind person as well as a formidable competitor. The Mets organization is shook, but we are all resolute in continuing to pursue a successful season. We hope Edwin recovers quickly.
March 16, 2023 — Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2)
While David Robertson, Brooks Raley, and Ottavino make up the Mets’ senior late-inning relief staff, Dáz is irreplaceable in the ninth inning and cannot be replaced. The Mets’ depth in the bullpen has been severely impacted this week, however, as righties Sam Coonrod (strained lat) and Bryce Montes de Oca (stress reaction in elbow) recently went down with injuries.
Zack Britton, who worked with Mets manager Buck Showalter for all those years in Baltimore, is still a free agent and has been linked to New York for weeks. Also unsigned are veterans Mike Minor, Corey Knebel, and Ken Giles. While it’s challenging to trade for pitching in March, a rebuilding team might be open to giving up a costly closer before Opening Day.
Because participation in the World Baseball Classic requires insurance, the Mets will receive compensation while Dáz is out of action. The inability to obtain insurance has occasionally caused participants to be compelled to leave the competition. For instance, left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers apparently fell victim to this earlier this spring.
After the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer did some math and came to the following conclusion: “The evidence of an injury effect isn’t strong enough to justify preventing players from participating, especially since a well-attended tournament is so much fun for fans — and, in the long run, potentially beneficial for baseball, which in turn enriches teams.”
Despite finishing 101-62 last year, the Mets were defeated by the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series. The team’s salary was well above $350 million thanks to a free agency spending binge that owner Steve Cohen approved and which included re-signing Dáz. The club will owe over $100 million in competitive balance taxes.
There is a great deal of pressure on the Mets to win the World Series in 2023 given the payroll and luxury tax bill. Notwithstanding the tragic Dáz injury and the consequent severe blow to the Mets, the WBC is still a worthwhile endeavor.