(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)
Chris Bassitt provided a nice boost for the A's in 2018, especially with all the pitching injuries they suffered. The 29-year-old right-hander appeared in 11 games, including seven starts, going 2-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He also pitched in 18 games for Triple-A Nashville, going 5-5 with a 4.30 ERA.
Bassitt notched 41 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings with the A's last season, limiting opponents to a .221 batting average. In parts of four Major League seasons, including three in Oakland, he is 4-14 with a 3.86 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.
Bassitt earned $545k in 2018 and is projected to get a raise to $1.6 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Why he might be a bargain
Bassitt could certainly provide depth to the A's starting rotation, as he did last season. With Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and A.J. Puk all expected to miss at least the start of the 2019 season, Oakland's rotation will be thin early on. Bassitt proved more than capable of serving as a spot starter and keeping his team in a game. He can also pitch out of the bullpen, which he has done 10 times in his career, including four in 2018.
Why he might be too pricey
$1.6 million is a high price tag for a fringe Major League pitcher. Bassitt has spent more time in the minors than the big leagues the past few seasons, and at the age of 29, he is no longer a young prospect. If the A's are even close to healthy, Bassitt will not have a spot in the starting rotation and likely won't factor into the bullpen either. He is a solid backup option, but that's probably all.
Unless the two sides can avoid arbitration, Bassitt is unlikely to return to Oakland next season. The A's would probably be willing to give him a small raise from his $545k salary in 2018, but $1.6 million is too much to pay for a spot starter. If the number ends up being in that range, expect the A's to let Bassitt walk and instead turn to younger arms to fill his role.