The New York Yankees want starting pitching. This is no secret. Brian Cashman said in the end-of-the-season press conference that starting pitching would be a point of emphasis this offseason. It was the biggest single roster hole for the Yankees this year.
It’s also not a unique position to be in. Just about every team in Major League Baseball will spend this offseason trying to bring in reinforcements for their starting rotation, even as we are entering the bullpenning age.
The Yankees have two guys who are guaranteed to be in the rotation for next season right now: Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. That’s it.
Sonny Gray is all but gone. Cashman also said that at the presser.
CC Sabathia and JA Happ are free agents. I’m reasonably confident that CC will be back, but it’s not necessarily a guarantee at this point. Happ very well could be back too. Despite his clunker in ALDS Game 1, he’s cool in my book and I’d definitely take him back for the right price. He was the best pitcher down the stretch of the regular season.
With a bunch of young question marks in Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, and the recovering-from-Tommy-John Jordan Montgomery (do we include Domingo German on this list?) headlining the rest of the in-house options, The Yankees still have a clear spot to add another guy to the rotation even if both CC and JA are back. Adding a front-end starter to this rotation is incredibly valuable and important.
Twitter’s number one choice to fill that void: Patrick Corbin. He’s also the best pitcher that is likely to pursue a new home this offseason. So it makes sense.
Corbin has to be the number one target, right? He’s coming off his best season since his injuries and he’s still just 29 years old. The other relatively elite free agent starters seem beyond their primes in that they’re older than you’d probably like and they’re not coming off their best seasons.
Clayton Kershaw is literally the best free agent pitcher, but he’s 31 now and is very unlikely to actually consider leaving the Dodgers.
Dallas Keuchel is still a nice pitcher, but he’s also 31 and seems to have taken a big step back.
Charlie Morton is 35 and I’m not confident that he’d keep up 2018’s pace if he left Houston and whatever voodoo magic they’re doing down there (they’re cheating somehow, right?).
Yeah, Corbin is number one. The only other guy coming off a great year at a reasonable age is Nathan Eovaldi and I don’t trust him to maintain any of it.
So what about Corbin? His 2018 stats: 11-7, 3.15 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 11.07 K/9, 2.16 BB/9 in 200.0 IP. Take pretty much any stat you want from 2018, they’re all good.
He seems basically back to what he was in 2013 before the injury troubles that caused him to miss all of 2014 and make just 16 starts in 2015. In 2013, at the age of 23, he spun 208.1 innings of 3.41 ERA baseball, with other strong stats.
He stayed fairly consistent throughout the year after his unreal April. His ERA and other stats by month, according to Baseball Reference:
He technically had a lull in the middle of the year with an ERA just over 3.50 from May-July, but he bounced back for undeniably strong performances in August and September.
It’s easy to see why everyone wants him. I’d be happy if they got him, in a vacuum. Corbin does seem to be a little fly-ball heavy, though, which would be a big concern as he would be moving from a pitcher’s park in Arizona to Yankee Stadium.
Between the long ball threat and the injury history, I would be hesitant to give him some sort of massive contract. I’m hesitant to give any pitcher a lengthy deal, really. I’d definitely be wary of giving him a deal in excess of 4 years in length.
Because Corbin is pretty clearly the best pitcher on the market at the most favorable age of the free agent class, he’ll probably be able to get a pretty substantial deal. I don’t think the Yankees would be able to get away with offering a 4-year deal. I think someone is going to be willing to give Corbin 5+ years of a high salary since he is the best pitcher that can be had with just money. I don’t care about the salary, because I don’t root for the Steinbrenner wallets, but I care about the number of years that you’d have to commit to a guy like Corbin.
Corbin, raised in the Syracuse area, also reportedly grew up a Yankees fan and his whole family still loves the Yankees. He had a lot of nice things to say about the organization earlier this year. Does that mean he’d be willing to take a worse offer from the Yankees? I doubt it. When has that ever really happened? Carlos Beltran wanted to take less to come to the Yanks in the 2000s, but he ended up going to the Mets instead when the Yankees wouldn’t even meet those demands.
Overall, I really like Corbin and I’d be A-OK with bringing him in if it’s not too exorbitant of a contract. But this is the best chance that Patrick Corbin will get to cash in on an exorbitant deal- is he going to give the Yankees a team-friendly contract? I doubt that.