DENVER — Chris Bassitt was playing a game of chess in Adam Ottavino’s hotel room on Friday night when his agent called him, saying they had a deal in place.
Bassitt and the Mets avoided an arbitration hearing, which was set for Monday, when the two sides agreed to a one-year, $8.8 million deal for 2022, according to multiple reports. The deal includes a mutual option worth $19 million for 2023 (or a $150,000 buyout).
“More so happy that it’s not going to be a distraction for anybody,” Bassitt said of avoiding trial. “That’s the biggest thing for me. … I like everyone here. I think we have a really great relationship here, and why even remotely try to mess with that?”
Bassitt said earlier in spring training, when the Mets settled deals with all 13 arbitration-eligible players except for the starting pitcher, that he “doesn’t give as–-t about his contact” and “that’s why I pay my agent.” In the same vein, Bassitt did not become involved in his contract situation until the 11th hour, when his camp had reached a deal with the Mets front office on Friday night.
The 33-year-old right-hander has thoroughly enjoyed his time so far in New York and said he is certainly open to a possible long-term extension with the Mets. But he’s not in a rush to start that discussion while the club is at the beginning of a season that has the potential to end with championship rings. GM Billy Eppler and Mets brass traded for Bassitt in March, sending JT Ginn and Adam Oller to the Oakland Athletics in exchange.
“A lot of people are short-term thinking right now,” Bassitt said. “We have such a special group that I don’t want to be a distraction and hurt them in any way. If something happens, I’m really happy about that. I love it here. I love everyone here so far. I would love to stay here long term, but I’m so focused on this year and what this team needs right now that it’s hard to think about 2023, 2024, however many years.
“We have a real chance to win a World Series, and that’s all I’ve been thinking about is what it takes to put our team in the best spot to do that.”
OTTO BACK AT COORS
Adam Ottavino pitched for the Rockies from 2012-2018. On Saturday, in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Coors Field, the right-handed reliever returned to his home of seven years for the first time in four seasons.
“I was excited from the moment we got off the plane,” Otavino said.
Ottavino pitched in relief of Carlos Carrasco in the sixth inning on Saturday, with runners on first and second and the Mets holding a five-run lead. He allowed one of his inherited runners to score, which went on Carrasco’s ledger, but did his job in 0.2 innings of work.
Part of the reason Ottavino was able to find success was due to his familiarity with the altitude at Coors Field, a ballpark which is located about one mile above sea level. His 206 innings pitched at Coors, entering Saturday, have allowed him to be comfortable with the challenges that other pitchers struggle with. Carrasco said he found it difficult to breathe during his 5.1-inning outing against the Rockies.
“You gotta adjust every time,” Otavino said. “You gotta embrace it. Change your sights a little bit because some of your pitches aren’t going to have the same amount of breaks in them. It’s different with every guy and each pitch type.
“I know my sinker’s not going to be as good here. So I have to start it in a different spot than I would at sea level. But my slider has proven to play pretty well here, so I tend to lean on that. But each guy has a different mix, so they have to figure it out and not be in denial about it.”
Tylor Megill (right biceps bursitis) is gearing up to play a game of catch sometime this weekend. He has been on the 15-day injured list for a week. The Mets and Megill had agreed to suspend the starter from throwing, so the next time he plays catch will be the first time he’s picked up a ball since he went on the IL. Megill will require at least one rehab start before he rejoins the rotation, so he’s still not close to being activated just yet.