Right-handed pitcher Chris Bassit signed a three-year, $63M agreement this past Friday, pending a physical. The 33-year old Bassitt went 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA last season with the New York Mets, setting new MLB career highs with 30 starts, 181 2/3 innings and 167 strikeouts.
As one of the most sought-after starters on the market, Bassit was able to bag the third highest per-year salary among free agent pitchers, only behind Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander. Bassit turned down a 19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets, tying him to compensation.
It should be noted however that the Blue Jays had to take a penalty on the signing, forfeiting their second-highest pick in the 2023 draft as well as $500,000 in international bonus pool room.
Bassitt’s $21 million annual salary marks the fourth consecutive offseason that Toronto has given out a contract of over $20M to a pitcher; Hyun Jin Ryu in 2019, George Springer in 2020 and Kevin Gausman in 2021.
Starting pitching was one of the team’s biggest priorities entering the offseason. Bassit fits the bill of a steady veteran who will enter the Jay’s rotation, attempting to bolster a stellar set of starters in Cy Young Award finalist Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios.
Alek Manoah and Gausman will be the big one-two punch atop the starting rotation, while José Berríos and Bassit will likely take the backseat in the No. 3 or 4 spots. Bassit isn’t known for being an extremely flashy pitcher but does hold a tricky sinker and solid fast ball. His average exit-velocity is 85.7 mph, which ranks in the 95th percentile and his hard-hit rate is 32.8, in the 87th percentile.
Toronto will be hoping that the addition of Bassit will provide that depth they need in the pitching department to overcome their inadequacies of past years come the postseason. While the Jays have done well to make the playoffs as of late, their lack of starting pitching options has shown to be a fatal flaw in the playoffs.
Toronto traded outfielder Teoscar Hernández to Seattle earlier in the offseason and agreed to a free agent deal with center fielder Kevin Kiermaier just last week. Next up on the team’s to-do list seems to be trading one of the catchers: Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen or rookie Gabriel Moreno. Many teams have shown significant interest, which put the Jays in an enviable position.
Find out more about the offseason activity of the Jays and how they plan to improve for next season.
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