We have used this idea for the last couple of years. The idea is to go through some of the top free agents, using the contract FanGraphs suggests and have a poll to see if we would sign him for that amount.
Chris Bassitt (two s’s and two t’s) is number 14 on FanGraphs’ list and #24 on Keith Law’s list.
Chris turns 34 in February. He declined his ‘mutual option’ with the Mets. He would have made $19 million this coming year.
Bassitt had a nice 2021 season, going 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 30 starts and 181.2 innings. He struck out 22.4% of batters and walked 6.6%, right around his career numbers. Baseball Reference has him at a 3.2 WAR.
Everyone always needs more pitching. There’s no rotation in all of baseball where Bassitt wouldn’t fit. He won’t be an ace. He might not be a no. 2 starter. But those are just labels, and no team goes into the offseason saying “no. 2 starter or bust.” Bassitt will give whichever team signs him a bunch of innings, and above average ones at that. That might sound like the middle class that’s been getting squeezed, but bankable starting pitching is exempt from the crush. It’s at a premium every single year. I don’t know where Bassitt will end up, but a staggering number of teams could use his services.
Bassitt didn’t establish himself as a major-league starter until age 30, getting to do so in possibly the best environment for it, Oakland, where the foul ground goes on forever and the team has a history of giving opportunities to pitchers like him. He doesn’t throw hard, but limits hard contact, gets ground balls, and doesn’t walk too many guys. His sinker was one of the most valuable in baseball in the last two years, with 62 percent of balls in play off the pitch hit on the ground. He doesn’t have a real out pitch and lives a bit on the knife’s edge, with above-average but not elite command or even control, and when anything he throws gets too close to the heart of the zone, he’s homer-prone. The 2022 season was also his first making 30 starts, and only his second time qualifying for the ERA title, with the other coming in the 60-game 2020 season. He’s a fourth starter, with more risk that he’s a five or less than that he becomes a three, worth two years and $24-28 based on what he’s done over the last three seasons but factoring in risk of durability or the tiny margins with which he works.
The term ‘damning with faint praise comes to mind.
Ben figures Chris to get a three-year contract at $17 million per year, for a total of $51 million. That seems a very fair price if he can continue to make 30 starts, and do a reasonable job. But then, the betting line on any 34-year-old to make 30 starts a year for the next three would get you very long odds.
On the good side, he didn’t pitch a ton of innings in his 20s, so he may do well into his 30s. But there is a fine line between pitching to soft contact and getting lit up.
Should the Jays sign Chris Bassitt if the price is $17 million a year for three years?
This poll is closed
Probably, but I’m not enthusiastic about it
Probably no, but I wouldn’t hate it
No, absolutely not