Mets add All-Star Chris Bassitt to rotation as Athletics’ rebuild begins

Mets add All-Star Chris Bassitt to rotation as Athletics' rebuild begins

8:15 PM ET

The trade: The New York Mets acquire RHP Chris Bassitt from the Oakland Athletics for RHPs J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller

With Carlos Rodon, Clayton Kershaw and Yusei Kikuchi off the free-agent market and Zack Greinke now the best remaining starting pitcher, the Mets moved to the trade market to add depth to a rotation that has question marks after Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Taijuan Walker. You hate to give up prospects when you’re a big-market club like that Mets who can just pay for players, but they acquire one of the most underrated starting pitchers in the game in Bassitt.

Bassitt went 27-11 with a 3.26 ERA over the past three seasons — ranking 12th in ERA among pitchers with at least 300 innings and 18th in WAR. That comfortably places him among the top 25 starters in the majors. While he’s hardly overpowering with a four-seamer that averaged 93.2 mph in 2021, he’s developed into a complete pitcher with plus command, a six-pitch repertoire and enough soft contact to more than make up for a below-average swing-and-miss rate (32nd percentile). He’s under team control for just one more season, and while the Mets may have preferred the ace-level upside that Rodon pitched at in 2021, Bassitt is a reliable, sturdy option who pencils in as one of the best No. 3 starters in the league.

1dDavid Schoenfield

1dDavid Schoenfield

13hBuster Olney

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The only minor concern is Bassitt was hit in the face by a 100-mph line drive last August, suffering facial fractures in his right cheek area that required surgery. Remarkably, he returned at the end of the season to make two starts, allowing one run over six innings, and showing no post-injury nerves. Bassitt does have a notable home/road split in his career, with a 2.58 ERA at home versus 4.34 on the road (2.30 versus 4.16 over the past three seasons), so he loved pitching in Oakland, but at least he’s moving to another good pitcher’s park in Citi Field.

The Mets might still be in the market for another starter — Carlos Carrasco, Tylor Megill and David Peterson are the next options, with Peterson coming off a broken foot and Megill’s 4.52 ERA the best of the trio in 2021. With Bassitt, they fix a hole without giving up any of their top prospects while still keeping their payroll below the “Steve Cohen” tax level … for now, anyway. I like this deal a lot for the Mets.

Mets grade: B+

Let the fire sale begin for the A’s. Bassitt is the first to go in what could be a mass exodus: Expect Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas to be next out the door as Billy Beane starts over and begins a new contention cycle. Like Bassitt, Manaea is eligible for free agency after 2022, with Olson, Chapman and Montas eligible after 2023. With the Braves, Dodgers and Yankees all in hot pursuit of free agent Freddie Freeman, the two losers in that bidding contest will have deep interest in Olson (as will other teams).

Ginn is the big return here. A first-round pick out of high school by the Dodgers, Ginn instead went to Mississippi State, winning Southeastern Conference freshman of the year honors and projecting as a potential first-round pick again as a draft-eligible sophomore. He underwent Tommy John surgery, however, and the Mets took him in the second round, signing him to an over-slot bonus. Ginn made 18 starts in Class A, pitching 92 innings with 81 strikeouts, 22 walks and 75 hits allowed in his first pro season. He threw a high-octane fastball as a freshman, but returned a different — yet still effective — pitcher in 2021, sitting 90-94 and inducing a lot of grounders (he allowed just three home runs). Ginn could be anything at this point, but right now projects as a mid-rotation a starter unless he gains more velocity. It’s a reasonable return for one year of Bassitt.

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Oller is the kind of pitcher Beane often gets in trades — such as when he acquired Bassitt years ago from the White Sox. Oller doesn’t appear anywhere on Mets’ top 10 prospect lists but had a solid 2021 season, posting a 3.45 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 120 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s already 27 years old and that was the first real success he had in the minors — in fact, the Mets acquired him as a minor league Rule 5 pick. He’s a low 90s guy, a sinker/slider/cutter repertoire, but the minor league numbers suggest he could at least be serviceable in a big league rotation in 2022 — which the A’s will obviously need if they end up trading three starters.

The future of this trade probably rests mostly on Ginn, so check back in a few years. For now, it’s mostly a downer for A’s fans, the first sign that 2022 may be a long season.

A’s grade: C

Source: ESPN MLB


Author: Ellen Garcia