The Yankees’ search for a starting pitcher has hit the desert, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the Bronx Bombers have checked in with the Arizona Diamondbacks about left-handed pitcher Patrick Corbin in trade talks.
Corbin is just one of many MLB-ready starters that the Yankees are reportedly kicking the tires on. They also have looked into the Pittsburgh Pirates’ RHP Gerrit Cole and Detroit Tigers’ RHP Michael Fulmer, per reports.
Reports that the Yankees are interested in Corbin come as a bit of a surprise. His contract, if not extended, has the least control when compared to the other pitchers that the Bombers are connected to. He will be able to become a free agent after the 2019 season, when Cole is controlled until after 2020 and Fulmer until 2023 (if neither signs an extension this offseason).
The lefty had a phenomenal finish to his season. After starting the year with a 6-9 record and 4.71 ERA prior to the All-Star break, he finished the season with a stellar second half. In 15 games (14 starts), Corbin pitched to a 8-4 record and 3.26 ERA to close out the 2017 campaign.
Corbin also has the worst career stats in comparison to the aforementioned Cole and Fulmer:
The Yankees may be attracted to Corbin’s 50 percent ground ball rate from the 2017 season, which was six points higher than the league average of 44 percent. His 2017 rate was a bit of a drop from 2016, where he posted a 54 percent grounder rate. But, as his ground ball rate dropped, his ERA also dropped from 5.15 to 4.03 from 2016 to 2017.
There is also a possibility that the Yankees see a flaw in Corbin’s mechanics that they think their coaching staff could fix. That was reportedly one of the reasons they traded for SS Didi Gregorius, who coincidentally also came from the Diamondbacks.
Trading for Corbin would essentially be betting that second-half Corbin is the real pitcher. Those statistics came in a shorter sample size, and he actually walked more hitters and struck out fewer after the break.
I think the Yankees are simply doing their due diligence in checking in on Corbin. While he showed promise in the second half, he would be too much of a risk in the rotation of a win-now team in the American League East.