Right-hander Chris Bassitt was one of 14 players to receive a qualifying offer ahead of yesterday’s deadline, getting the one-year, $19.65MM offer from the Mets. However, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Bassitt will turn that down and seek a multi-year deal.
Bassitt, 34 in February, wasn’t as much of a slam-dunk case to reject the QO as superstars like Aaron Judge or Jacob deGrom. Nevertheless, it never seemed especially likely that he would accept it either. Over the past four years, he has established himself as a consistently effective hurler.
Since the start of 2019, he’s thrown 546 innings with a 3.31 ERA, 23.1% strikeout rate, 6.7% walk rate and 44.3% ground ball rate. His 9.3 fWAR in that time is 32nd among all pitchers in baseball. He might not be an ace, but he’s a solid and reliable pitcher that would upgrade just about any rotation in the league. Starting pitching is always in high demand and Bassitt figures to garner plenty of interest in the weeks and months to come.
He’s a bit of an unusual case in that he didn’t really establish himself until he was 30 and now reaches free agency with his 34th birthday coming up during Spring Training. Going through the arbitration system, he got his salary as high as $8.65MM in 2022, plus a $150K buyout on the mutual option he eventually turned down. That means that a $19.65MM salary would be more than double his previous career high. However, this is likely his greatest chance at long-term security, given his strong multi-year platform. Taking the QO and returning to free agency a year from now would mean that he’s one year older, which would dampen his offers, and there’s always the chance of some kind of injury limiting his market at that point. Even with the QO attached, MLBTR predicts he can earn effectively the value of the QO but with a longer commitment, $60MM over three years.
There’s nothing preventing he and the Mets from reuniting on a new contract, though the Mets will now be competing with the 29 other teams. Should Bassitt ultimately sign elsewhere this winter, the Mets will be entitled to draft pick compensation. Since the Mets paid the competitive balance tax in 2022, their compensatory pick gets bumped to after the fourth round. Under this scenario, the team signing Bassitt will also be subject to forfeiting at least one draft pick, with the exact nature of the penalty dependant upon if that team paid the CBT or received revenue sharing.