The Mets and right-hander Chris Bassitt have avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $8.65MM contract for the 2022 season, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). There is also a mutual option attached to the deal, as if both sides trigger the option, Bassitt will receive $19MM in 2023 (or a $150K buyout if either side declines).
The two sides has been scheduled for an arbitration hearing on May 23. Bassitt was looking for a $9MM salary and the Mets countered with an $8.3MM offer, so the $8.65MM agreement is directly between the two submitted figures, though Bassitt will get a bit closer to his desired salary in the form of the $150K buyout.
As usual with mutual options, it is pretty unlikely that both parties will agree to exercise the 2023 agreement. Bassitt will be a free agent for the first time this winter, and will be lined up for a lucrative multi-year agreement if he keeps pitching as well as he has to date over his first eight starts. Since Bassitt will be 34 on Opening Day, he’ll surely like the opportunity to score the first (and maybe last) big multi-year payday of his career, rather than take just the one year and $19MM from the Mets.
This doesn’t mean that Bassitt isn’t necessarily a long-term fit in Queens, though he’ll be one of several potential free agent pitching decisions facing the Mets this winter. Taijuan Walker (player option), Jacob deGrom (opt-out clause), and Carlos Carrasco (club option) could also be joining Bassitt on the open market, so New York’s rotation could look quite different in 2023. Of course, the Mets have the financial resources to re-sign any of these players, depending on which arms they want to specifically target.
The $8.65MM salary is a nice bump from Bassitt’s $4.9MM salary with the A’s in 2021, and he also earned $2.25MM in his first arb-eligible year in 2020 (in both those previous seasons, Bassitt reached a deal with Oakland to avoid hearings). It’s a pretty nice outcome for a pitcher who didn’t debut in the majors until age 25, missed all over 2017 due to Tommy John surgery, and didn’t really establish himself as a rotation regular until 2019.
Since the start of that 2019 campaign, Bassitt has a 3.20 ERA over 413 innings, and he has earned top-ten Cy Young Award finishes in each of the previous two seasons. With the Athletics looking to cut payroll this past offseason, Bassitt was seen as a prime trade target heading into his final year of team control, and the A’s indeed moved Bassitt as part of a three-player deal with the Mets soon after the lockout ended.