4:10pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Corbin has also met with the Nationals in Washington, D.C. this week. It’s not clear if Corbin has met with any other clubs on what looks to be a tour of some east-coast contenders with interest in the lefty. Like the Phillies and Yankees, the Nats have some obvious needs in the rotation. At present, the Nats have Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark are the top three options on the team’s depth chart, with young hurlers Joe Ross (returning from Tommy John surgery) and Erick Fedde among the options for the final two rotation spots.
Nov. 28, 3:25pm: Following yesterday’s meeting with the Phillies, Corbin is headed to New York to meet with Yankees officials, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). There’s no meeting set between Corbin and the Mets while his camp is in New York, Sherman adds.
A meeting between the Yankees and Corbin was all but a foregone conclusion. The Yanks are known to be eyeing high-end rotation help even after acquiring James Paxton, and Corbin stands out as the best starter on the market. Beyond that, the two sides have been linked for the better part of a year; reports indicated that the Yankees had interest in acquiring Corbin last year and last offseason, and he’s gone on record to indicate that he grew up a Yankee fan. None of that makes Corbin to the Bronx a fait accompli, but it’d certainly be a surprise if the Yanks weren’t firmly in the mix for Corbin until the very end.
Nov. 27: The Phillies, expected to be one of the most active teams in free agency, are meeting with left-hander Patrick Corbin at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia today, tweets Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Corbin is “high on [the] Phillies’ wish list,” Salisbury adds, though certainly one in-person visit doesn’t indicate that there’s anything close to fruition between the two sides.
Corbin, 29, is the consensus top starter on the free-agent market after racking up 200 innings of 3.15 ERA ball with 11.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9 and a 48.5 percent ground-ball rate. No qualified starter in baseball topped Corbin in terms of opponents’ chase rate (38 percent), and only Max Scherzer bested Corbin’s 15.6 percent swinging-strike rate. Fielding-independent metrics actually liked Corbin more than his ERA (2.47 FIP, 2.61 xFIP, 2.91 SIERA).
As MLBTR contributor Rob Huff recently explored, the Phillies have enormous payroll flexibility this offseason — as much as nearly any team in the Majors — which should allow them to pursue multiple top-tier free agents. Majority owner John Middleton recently told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he has every expectation of spending aggressively this winter, playfully adding that the Phillies might “even be even a little stupid about it.”
Corbin would improve any pitching staff in baseball, and he’d give the Phillies a dynamic one-two punch atop the rotation in conjunction with emerging ace Aaron Nola. Teamed with Jake Arrieta and some combination of Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff and Enyel De Los Santos, that top three would give the Phillies a formidable and, as importantly, deep stock of arms from which to draw as the team looks to redeem itself in the wake of a catastrophic late-season collapse. Of course, adding an arm of Corbin’s caliber would also make it a bit easier to stomach trading from that reservoir of younger arms in order to address other areas on the roster. And while MLBTR projected Corbin to top $20MM annually over a six-year term, the Phillies’ wide-open payroll slate would still leave them ample room to add him and one of the top two free agents on the market; the Phils have been prominently linked to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in the early stages of free agency.