Chris Bassitt was in Philadelphia on Friday; will the Phillies sign the starter?
Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly signed former New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker to a four-year, $71 million contract. Along with his strong 12-5 record and 3.49 ERA this past season, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski especially pursued the 30-year-old because the Mets did not give him a qualifying offer.
This means the Phillies do not need to give up draft pick compensation for signing Walker. The Mets did, however, offer fellow right-handed starting pitcher Chris Bassitt a qualifying offer — just days after he turned down his $19 million mutual option with the Mets for the 2023 season.
Bassitt likewise declined the Mets’ one-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer, officially making him a free agent.
Rumors swirled surrounding the eight-year veteran and 2021 American League All-Star on Friday, as he posted a picture on Instagram from a window that overlooked City Hall and the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia:
Fans speculated that the free agent could be in town to visit the Phillies and potentially come to terms on a contract. Others thought that maybe the Phillies did not announce the Walker deal yet because they wanted a joint press conference with both the former Mets starting pitchers.
Amid rumor conversation, there were differing opinions as to whether Dombrowski should sign Bassitt, however, as the organization already gave up draft picks in their blockbuster signing for shortstop Trea Turner — who the Los Angeles Dodgers gave a qualifying offer.
Bassitt caught wind of the social media buzz, took down the post, and then wrote on his Instagram story the following:
"“Out of respect to all teams, me or my agency would never and will never ‘leak’ who I am talking to or not talking to. That is between me and them. God bless all of y’all.”"
It was later revealed that Bassitt was in Center City for the wedding of his former Oakland Athletics teammate Lou Trivino — a native of Green Lane, Pennsylvania.
The Bassitt-to-the-Phillies rumors were fun while they lasted. But what if he multi-tasked and indeed spoke to the Phillies while he was in town? We may never know.
Inside the Phillies’ Alex Carr made a good point: if the Phillies were to sign another player with a qualifying offer attached, they might as well go all-in and sign left-handed ace Carlos Rodón.
This past season, Bassitt went 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, and 167-49 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 30 starts and 181 2/3 innings for the Mets. If he could repeat that performance in 2023, it would have been a durable rotation arm for the Phillies — who recently lost Noah Syndergaard, Zach Eflin, and Kyle Gibson to free agency.