The teams that have already met with free-agent lefty Patrick Corbin have been given the impression that he’s hoping to be the first major free agent to sign a long-term contract this winter, tweets Jayson Stark of The Athletic. Corbin met with the Phillies, Nationals and Yankees this week, though he’s surely been in contact with other clubs as the consensus top starting pitcher available in free agency. Stark suggests that a Corbin signing “will almost certainly” happen before the Winter Meetings, which are already only nine days away from beginning.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday that early interest in Corbin is robust, with some teams believing he’ll receive offers of six years in length. (MLBTR projected Corbin to sign a six-year, $129MM contract.) Notably, Rosenthal cites one source in suggesting that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is “seriously focused” on acquiring Corbin, though Washington’s history of baking heavy deferrals into long-term contracts isn’t always well received by free agents.
More anecdotally, Rosenthal tweets that at Corbin’s offseason wedding, his younger brother donned a Yankees hat during his best man speech and joked that he hoped the groom would soon be moving closer to home. (Corbin, a childhood Yankees fan, is from Syracuse.) The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff spoke to Yankees general manger Brian Cashman about the team’s meeting with Corbin, though Cashman unsurprisingly declined to reveal much, simply stating that Corbin “left here knowing a lot more about us than when he arrived.” The GM did, however, imply that the organization won’t necessarily wait for Corbin to make a decision before moving on. Based on Stark’s report, however, it doesn’t sound as if Corbin will be making interest parties wait all that long.
The 29-year-old Corbin is the second-youngest and very arguably the best starting pitcher on the free-agent market. He turned in his second career 200-inning season in 2018, his second straight season with 33 appearances and ranked seventh among qualified starting pitchers in strikeout percentage as well as second in swinging-strike rate.
If there’s a knock on Corbin, it’s that he doesn’t have a lengthy track record of performing at this level — largely because he underwent Tommy John surgery midway through his Diamondbacks tenure, missed one and a half seasons, and struggled in his first full year back. He’s been a quality hurler over the past two seasons, though, and D-backs pitching coach Mike Butcher tells Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he believes Corbin can maintain his 2018 transformation for years to come. Butcher and Lauber discuss the changes to Corbin’s arsenal — including the refinement of his slider and altered usage of his curveball — that brought about Corbin’s breakout season in 2018 in an interview that’s well worth a full read-through for fans hoping their preferred club will land the lefty.