A few notes on the Yankees, whom the archrival Red Sox eliminated from the postseason earlier this week:
- It’s “expected” that the Yankees will go after left-hander Patrick Corbin in free agency, sources tell Jon Heyman of Fancred. It’s notable but not surprising that the Yankees may pursue Corbin, as they’re in need of quality starters and he’ll be among the best on the open market. Further, the Bombers attempted to acquire Corbin last winter, and the New York state native explained to Bob Nightengale of USA Today in April that the rumors “excited” his Yankees-loving family. Regardless of where Corbin pitches in 2019, he figures to do so after receiving one of the richest contracts awarded during the upcoming offseason. The 29-year-old, a career-long Diamondback to this point, is coming off a personal-best season in which he logged a 3.15 ERA/2.47 FIP with 11.07 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9 over 200 innings.
- While Corbin may soon end up a Yankee, “it would appear” they’ll say goodbye to fellow pending free-agent starter CC Sabathia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Heyman passes along different information, writing that a reunion “hasn’t necessarily been ruled out.” A Yankee since 2009, the potential Hall of Famer would be difficult to replace both on and off the field for the Bombers, with whom he turned in another fine season in 2018. Despite his age (he turned 38 in July), the big lefty posted a 3.65 ERA across 153 innings. ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA haven’t been as bullish on Sabathia’s work in recent years, though he’s so difficult to square up against that it has enabled him to defy serious regression. Sabathia finished fifth among all pitchers in average exit velocity against (84 mph) this past regular season, per Statcast. Because he’s still such an effective starter, Sabathia has made it known he’ll resume his career in 2019. While he did just undergo knee surgery Friday, it doesn’t seem as if it’ll affect Sabathia’s outlook heading into next year.
- For the first time in 15 years, the Yankees stayed under the luxury-tax threshold this season, David Lennon of Newsday notes. That means if the Yankees exceed the $206MM figure in 2019 (up from $197MM this year), they’ll pay a 20 percent tax for every dollar spent over the mark, as opposed to 50 percent. On paper, that puts them in better position to pursue top free agents such as Corbin, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. But it’s not a slam dunk the Yankees – led by owner Hal Steinbrenner – will spend in excess of $206MM next year, as general manager Brian Cashman told Lennon on Friday: “I don’t want to speak for Hal, but my general feeling from him and for us has been not wanting to line the pockets of others to let them utilize that excess against us. It was mission accomplished in terms of the payroll this year, and taking away advantages that teams have been getting from us because we were exceeding those thresholds.” Cashman added, though, that he believes Steinbrenner’s “a very open-minded person” with respect to spending, perhaps leaving the door open for some big-money moves.