With the MLB Lockout in the rearview mirror, the New York Mets are in the midst of putting the finishing touches on an excellent offseason. After an initial day of conversation and negotiation, the Mets made the biggest move since the restart, acquiring starting pitcher Chris Bassitt from the Oakland Athletics for prospects J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller.
The move comes after some recent rumors involving the Mets and acquiring more starting pitching. With Carlos Rodon off to San Francisco and Yusei Kikuchi to Toronto, the Mets shifted back to the trade market. New York was recently attached to Arizona Diamondbacks starter Luke Weaver and Cincinnati Reds starter Tyler Mahle, but ended up with Bassitt from Oakland, a team rumored to want to shed salary and used their top starters - Sean Manaea and Bassitt - to do so.
Roster-wise, the move solidifies a rotation in need of one more legitimate starter. Now, the Mets sport Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Carrasco behind Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer - forming one of the best rotations in the National League. He also pushes everyone down a roster spot, moving Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Trevor Williams, and Jordan Yamamoto into depth roles.
More importantly, Bassitt’s arrival to Queens gives the Mets a solidifying rotation piece for a team with World Series aspirations.
What does Chris Bassitt bring to the New York Mets?
Last season, Bassitt finished with a win-loss record of 12-4, 3.3 fWAR, 3.15 ERA, 3.93 xFIP, and 9.10 K/9 in 151.7 innings in a career-high 27 starts. He’s recorded a fWAR of 2.0 or more and 140 innings or more in two of the last season, with 1.3 fWAR in 66 innings in the shortened 2020 season. He missed time with a head injury after being hit with a comebacker, but returned to close out the season with a few starts.
While deGrom and Scherzer attack with high heat fastballs, Bassitt thrives with an arsenal that leans on off-speed pitches. Last season, Bassitt’s fastball sat at 93.2 miles per hour and a cutter that sits at 88.8 miles per hour. The one-two combination for Bassitt is his sinker/slider combination, the two most thrown pitches in his repertoire last season, in order to attack opposing batters.
A quick glance on his Baseball Savant page, Bassitt has done a good job of disposing batters away AND limit his walks. Last season, Bassitt finished with a 6.1 walk rate, good for the 81st percentile in the league. He’s also eliminated hard hits - outside of the occasional home run - with a 33.2 hard hit percentage, good for the 88th percentile.
So in short, Bassitt is an excellent sinker/slider pitcher, who uses several different pitches to keep his opponents at bay. He doesn’t beat himself with walks, nor does he allow many hard hits. As I said before, a completely different profile compared to deGrom and Scherzer, but an effective one nonetheless.
Is Chris Bassitt an ace? No. However, his recent success over the last three seasons suggests that Bassitt firmly sits on the number two/number three level borderline, which is a no-brainer acquisition if you can get him for the price New York acquired him for.
Can the Mets get an extension done with Bassitt before the season?
At 33 years old and in his last season of arbitration - an estimated $8.8 million, per MLB Trade Rumors - there’s room for an extension here between Bassitt and the Mets before the season starts. Should the Mets get a deal done before the seasn starts and how much would it cost New York?
The Sonny Gray extension of 2019 sounds about right. At the time, Gray was making $7.5 million in arbitration at age 29, then signed a three-year, $30.5 million dollar extension with a club option for $12.5 million. Gray came off a down season in New York, instantly turned it around for the Reds and was recently shipped off to Minnesota in a move to anchor their young rotation.
There’s a bit more risk here with Bassitt being 33, but he doesn’t have much wear and tear on his arm (555.2 innings pitched for his career; through does have a Tommy John to his name from 2016) and doesn’t rely on a blazing fastball to get him by.
Something like three-year, $42 million would make a ton of sense for both parties. Combine this year’s estimated value to tthat extension and we’re looking at about $50 million over four years, which is fairly decent for his age-33 to age-36 seasons.
If there’s any potential downside to this deal, it’s that the Mets might want to be aggressive in the minor league starter market as well, as relying on two 33-year-olds and a 37-year-old has downside risk. For the Mets to be smart here, a skipped start or two and proper rest could be vital for the Mets entering the postseason with all three available; or, look at it as a chance for the likes of Megill and Peterson to nab starts throughout the year.
Outside of that one concern, this deal was a home run for the Mets, acquiring a high-level pitcher without moving away one of your top prospects. New York now has an established rotation with four pieces in Triple-A Syracuse that have experience on the major league level. Chris Bassitt helps the Mets rotation and gives them another starter to help for their National League East push and for a World Series run in 2022.