Mets starting pitcher Chris Bassitt delivers against the St. Louis...

Mets starting pitcher Chris Bassitt delivers against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Thursday, May 19, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

DENVER — Chris Bassitt and the Mets agreed to an $8.8 million contract that includes a mutual option for next year, sources said Saturday. 

His salary this season is $8.65 million. The 2023 option is worth $19 million (or a buyout of $150,000). If either Bassitt or the Mets decide they don't like that price for the extra season, he will become a free agent. 

Without this deal, the sides would have headed to an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Monday. Those can be awkward, with team representatives arguing — while he is listening — why a player should make less money than he asked for. Bassitt had requested $9 million; the Mets filed at $8.3 million. They wound up meeting in the middle for 2022. 

“I didn’t want to go to trial,” Bassitt said. “I like everyone here. It was more so just, I think we have a really great relationship here. Why even remotely try to mess with that?” 

He had been getting paid at the lower rate during this interim period, since the lockout that delayed the season also pushed back the arbitration process from January/February to March-May. 

With Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer injured, the 33-year-old Bassitt is the Mets’ de facto ace. He has a 2.77 ERA and 1.09 WHIP after eight starts with his new team, which acquired him from the Athletics via trade for a pair of pitching prospects on March 12. 

Bassitt said he is open to a longer-term deal but doesn’t want to risk complicating the task at hand: winning now. 

“This year we have such a special group that I don’t really want to be a distraction and hurt that in any way,” he said. “If something [long-term] happens, it happens. If something does happen, I’m really, really happy about that. I love it here. Love everyone here so far. I would love to stay here long-term, but I’m so focused right now on this year and what this team needs right now that it’s hard to think about ’23, ’24, however many years."