TORONTO BLUE JAYS SIGN CHRIS BASSITT, KEVIN KIERMAIER

2022-12-14 · 2 min read · MLB/Baseball
Chris Bassitt

Frank Franklin II/AP | AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

Following a rather monotonous winter meeting in San Diego, Blue Jays management left the signing frenzy with nothing to show - an indictment, some fans claimed, of Rogers' willingness to spend money amidst a historic Free Agency thus far. Not long after the dust settled and everyone hopped on their planes to fly home, Toronto made a pair of moves in quick succession - one of which being drastically more important than the other.
The first was signing Kevin Kiermaier to a one-year, Major League contract in which the dollar value has yet to be disclosed. Essentially a Raimel Tapia replacement, Kiermaier will - for the time being - act as Toronto’s fourth outfielder. Known for his tremendous defensive abilities, the veteran became a Free Agent this offseason when Tampa Bay turned down his $13 million dollar club option.
The now-32 year old is coming off multiple surgeries, and was limited to a measly 62 games in the 2022 season. Kiermaier’s never been a profound offensive threat - his highest output with the bat came in 2019 when he smacked 14 homers with 55 RBIs through 129 games - but his numbers have substantially deteriorated over the last five years or so, slashing .232/.296/.382 with 397 strikeouts and 341 hits in 451 games.
Perhaps his most notable moment in the minds of Jays fans came in 2021 when Kiermaier grabbed Alejandro Kirk’s data card after it had fallen to the ground mid-play. The Tampa outfielder refused to return the card when the Jays’ dugout asked for it, inciting an ethical dilemma - and many, many Jays fans calling for retaliation in the form of a hard, inside fastball.
Following the signing of Kiermaier, Toronto took their first notable step towards improving the rotation a few days later when news broke that they had signed Chris Bassitt to a three-year, $63 million dollar deal. A relatively major splash, the first of the offseason for Ross Atkins and company.
The eight-year MLB veteran was easily the best right-handed starter left on the market, and effectively slides into the three (or four) hole in the rotation which now looks something like: Manoah, Gausman, Bassitt, Berrios, Kikuchi/White. Tentatively, assuming Yusei Kikuchi gets another shot in the rotation, Mitch White is merely depth at this point. Ross Stripling being noticeably absent at this point, along with now four out of five starters solidified, gives a pretty good indication that everyone’s favourite chicken strip will not be returning in 2023. A rotation of five righties would be…interesting, to say the least (which would be the case, for now, if Kikuchi is shuffled to the ‘pen).
Bassitt is an interesting story, not particularly of note until 2018 when he began to breakout for Oakland, following up with an extremely strong run from 2019-2022 in which he amounted an outstanding 3.31 ERA, 3.75 FIP, and 1.134 WHIP while tossing 522 Ks over 546 innings. An All-Star in 2021, Bassitt found his way to the New York Mets in ‘22 where he went 15-9, throwing 181 ⅔ innings - a career high. He’s an extremely consistent arm with a plethora of pitches, most notably his splitter, and induces ground balls at an extremely high rate.
In theory, Bassitt is a perfect fit for Toronto. He solidifies an already-strong rotation, and brings with him plenty of experience, with some in the postseason too. He’s getting up there in age and will be 36 when his contract expires, but is infinitely more valuable in the short-term given the Blue Jays’ win-now mentality.
Bassitt retains a yearly, 8-team no-trade list throughout each of his three years. He joins Matt Chapman as ex-Oakland A’s who, following their complete sell-off, will link back up in Toronto.
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By: Gus Cousins

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