Major League Baseball is on fire today. To start off the afternoon, the Oakland A's, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers agreed to a massive deal around catcher Sean Murphy, who finally has been moved after what feels like years of trade rumors.
Before the ink even dried on this mega-deal, news on the starting pitching free agent market is breaking and this time, the Toronto Blue Jays are the ones in the headlines.
The Toronto Blue Jays have struck gold and signed right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt to a three-year, $63M contract.
Jeff Passan of ESPN was the first to report it on Twitter.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic following up to report that there is a limited no-trade clause in Bassitt's contract. He will be allowed to specify eight teams per year to which he cannot be traded.
This is such a huge deal for the Jays, who entered free agency with two clear needs to address on their roster: center field and starting pitching.
With the Kevin Kiermaier signing giving the club a defensive-minded outfielder, the Jays were able to (at least temporarily) turn its attention towards the pitching market and ultimately wound up with one of the top arms still available. Let's be clear, there is still room for one more outfielder, it remains to be seen whether Ross Atkins will be able to pry one of Arizona's outfielders from them.
Now that the Bassitt signing is coming down the pike, this is the fourth-consecutive offseason in which the Jays doled out contracts north of $20M towards free agents' multi-year contracts. Bassitt joins Hyun Jin Ryu, George Springer and Kevin Gausman as the highest paid free agents on the club.
In Bassitt, the Jays are landing a pitcher that has gradually gotten better and better as his career has gone on. A veteran of eight seasons in the bigs, Bassitt is coming off of his first (and ultimately only) season as a New York Met. He made 30 starts for the Mets, going 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA and a 113 ERA+ in 181.2 innings.
Bassitt has never been a huge name around the league, thanks in large part to his coming up with the low-market Oakland A's, but he has been a quietly solid pitcher over the years. The 33-year-old finished in the top-10 in AL Cy Young Award voting in both 2020 and 2021 and has a career 46-34 record with a 3.45 ERA.
With the addition of Bassitt to an already powerful rotation, the Blue Jays have firmly put themselves into the conversation of best rotation in the league. Are they No. 1? No, but Gausman, Manoah and Bassitt is one hell of a start.