Mets boost staff, get Bassitt from Athletics for 2 minor leaguers

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who made a remarkable recovery from a frightening line drive to the head last year, was traded by the Oakland Athletics to the New York Mets on Saturday for a pair of minor league pitchers.

The Mets sent right-handers J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller to the A’s for Bassitt.

Bassitt gives the Mets a much-needed starter for the middle of the rotation, seemingly a good fit behind aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.

The 33-year-old Bassitt came back to make two starts in late September, just more than a month after he took a 100 mph liner to the face on Aug. 17 in Chicago. The drive came off Brian Goodwin’s bat in the second inning of a 9-0 loss to the White Sox.

Bassitt underwent surgery for three fractures in his right cheekbone. Immediately after the injury, his right eye was swollen shut.

Bassitt wound up 12-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 27 starts, including his first career complete game. He had been an AL Cy Young candidate when he got hurt and his absence took a toll on the A’s beyond the field. He was 12-3 with a 3.06 ERA and leading the AL in victories when he was injured.

Oakland, which won the AL West in the virus-shortened 2020 season, finished 86-76 and nine games behind the division champion Astros to miss the playoffs following three straight appearances. The small-budget A’s have long been known for trading away their key players during the offseason.

The Athletics will be led by first-year manager Mark Kotsay, a former outfielder for the club.

Bassitt is 31-25 with a 3.47 ERA in parts of seven seasons with the A’s and White Sox.

New York made a huge splash by landing Scherzer in free agency before the Major League Baseball lockout, giving the team an imposing duo with deGrom that’s combined to win five Cy Young Awards. But overlooked a bit in that excitement was the fact that Marcus Stroman, the club’s best starter last season, signed with the Chicago Cubs and right-hander Noah Syndergaard, coming back from Tommy John surgery, left for the Los Angeles Angels.

So the Mets need to add depth on the mound, especially with deGrom coming off an injury-abbreviated season and Scherzer set to turn 38 in July. They also have Carlos Carrasco, who managed 12 mostly ineffective starts last year in his first season with the Mets, and Taijuan Walker, who followed up an All-Star first half with a miserable second half.

Third-year lefty David Peterson and right-hander Tylor Megill are also rotation options after each showed some promise as a rookie.

The 22-year-old Ginn was a second-round pick by the Mets in 2020. He was a combined 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA in two levels of Class A ball last year.

Oller, 27, was a combined 9-4 with a 3.45 ERA in Triple-A and Double-A last year.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

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TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”