Free agent starter Chris Bassitt is “seeking a contract longer than three years,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). This might impact the chances of a reunion between Bassitt and the Mets, as Puma writes that the Amazins aren’t keen on going beyond a three-year deal.
This is Bassitt’s first trip to free agency after playing in parts of eight MLB seasons and he is entering his age-34 campaign. Given how well he has pitched since his 2018 return from Tommy John surgery, it isn’t surprising that Bassitt would want to land the biggest contract possible in his first crack at a lucrative multi-year agreement. Of course, from the perspective of any pitching-needy teams, Bassitt’s age and injury history are also reasons to be wary of committing significant money to the right-hander into his age-37 or even his age-38 season.
The TJ surgery and subsequent recovery kept Bassitt off a big league mound for over two full years, from April 2016 to June 2018. As such, an argument could be made that Bassitt’s arm is actually pretty fresh for a pitcher of his age, given that he has only 737 1/3 Major League innings on his resume. Since returning from the Tommy John rehab, Bassitt has been pretty durable, missing a few weeks in 2019 with a lower-leg contusion and a week this season on the COVID-related injury list. Bassitt’s most notable injury was a facial fracture in late 2021, after he was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Brian Goodwin — remarkably, Bassitt was able to return to action a little over a month later.
Bassitt declined his end of a $19MM mutual option for 2023, and he then turned down a qualifying offer from the Mets. Therefore, his market could also be impacted by the draft compensation a new team would have to surrender to sign the righty. The QO has tended to be a bit more of an obstacle for players like Bassitt who aren’t in the clear-cut upper tier of the free agent market, but given some of the early action on the pitching market, the demand for arms should help Bassitt land a sizeable deal, and perhaps even a fourth guaranteed year.
After all, Jacob deGrom already surpassed expectations by landing a five-year deal from the Rangers, which will be worth at least $185MM. With deGrom off the board, the Mets may have to think harder about going outside their comfort zone if they want to bring Bassitt back to Queens. New York has been connected to several other pitchers besides Bassitt, as such names as Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, and Jameson Taillon have also emerged on the Mets’ radar in recent days.