The silver lining for Yankees after Blue Jays land Chris Bassitt in free agency
Shortly after the messy three-team trade between the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics that saw Sean Murphy and William Contreras on the move, ESPN’s Jeff Passan dropped another bomb.
He reported the Blue Jays landed starting pitcher Chris Bassitt on a three-year, $63 million contract, which continues to make the AL East stronger (with the exception of anything the Boston Red Sox are doing).
On the surface, New York Yankees fans might not be pleased. The Blue Jays are technically getting better, especially in the rotation — despite the fact they traded a star offensive player in Teoscar Hernandez for a reliever and replaced him with Kevin Kiermaier — and it isn’t anything to be thrilled about.
The Jays already had Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman leading the way for their pitching staff. They might not be welcoming back Hyun-Jin Ryu in 2023 because he underwent Tommy John surgery in June, but they have Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi rounding out the back end.
Throw Bassitt into the mix, and you have a full rotation with a clear No. 3 option. Top to bottom, it’s probably better than what New York has at the moment. The Yankees’ bats will undoubtedly be challenged in 2023, but all this does is motivate New York to add an impact offensive player or someone like Carlos Rodon.
The Blue Jays paying Chris Bassitt should motivate the Yankees
The Yankees still have a vacancy in left field. They could stand to improve the middle of their infield as well as third base. The bullpen needs another arm or two and the rotation could use one more piece.
The links to Rodon have been loud and obvious. Perhaps the Bassitt news helps push that across the finish line as the pitching market continues to see guys fly off the board. After all, Bassitt was likely a backup option for New York in the event their Rodon pursuit is as serious as been reported. Now that he’s off the board, there should be a greater effort to secure the left-hander as the options dwindle.
Perhaps general manager Brian Cashman more primed to make that offensive upgrade (wherever it may be) since his direct competition just upped the ante with a move to neutralize his team’s offense.
But perhaps most important of all is the financial pressure this puts on Toronto (in addition to the fact they’re losing a draft pick because Bassitt had the qualifying offer attached to him!). Adding a $21 million AAV to their payroll will clock them in at $175 million in total commitments for 2023, $185 million in 2024 and $164 million in 2025. Are they forgetting they stand to lose guys like Matt Chapman, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Whit Merrifield and Anthony Bass after the the 2023 season and still need to get Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette under contract for the long haul?
Maybe they don’t care about the money it will take to upgrade/backfill those four losses plus hefty commitments to their cornerstone players, but for a franchise that doesn’t historically spend, it sure seems like they’re going to be putting themselves in a bit of a precarious situation. And even if they wait for Guerrero Jr. and Bichette to play out their team control (three years), the rest of the core around them will pretty much be gone. And they’ll be right back at square one.
So once the Yankees respond to this with an impact move of their own as a result of the Bassitt signing, the Jays’ golden window of contention will be further compromised, seemingly without a plan once the three-year timer expires.