Much was made of Patrick Corbin‘s visit to the Philadelphia Phillies, which included a viral image of the lefty photoshopped into a Phillies uniform on the scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. It turns out that Philly isn’t the only stop for Corbin, however, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported he’d be in New York to meet with the Yankees (and not the Mets) Thursday.
Corbin is widely regarded as the best starting pitcher available on the free-agent market, after finishing tied for fourth among qualified starters in all of baseball with 6.3 fWAR. By that metric, only these guys were better:
- Jacob deGrom (8.8)
- Max Scherzer (7.2)
- Justin Verlander (6.8)
- Patrick Corbin (6.3) | Gerrit Cole (6.3)
That’s a pretty good group of pitchers to be associated with. Corbin’s ground-ball rate has been comfortably above the MLB average since his debut in 2012, and an increase in strikeout percentage turned him into a top-5 pitcher in baseball.
Per Fangraphs’ pitching value system, Corbin had the best slider among all qualified pitchers in the MLB. In fact, since he’s started to throw that pitch more, his fWAR has increased at a similar rate. Corbin relies on 5 pitches: Slider (40.9%), Sinker (29.5%), Four Seamer (19.1%), Curve (9.4%), Changeup (1.1%).
“I don’t think I’ve seen a slider like that since Steve Carlton,” said Rick Schu, San Francisco Giants assistant hitting coach, to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “I mean, it just disappears.”
The question comes down to whether the Yankees will out-bid the Phillies for Corbin, or if Corbin will accept a competitive offer that will fulfill his dream of pitching in pinstripes. MLB Trade Rumors ranked Corbin as the third-best free agent in their annual Top 50 ranking, and predicted the Yankees would ink the southpaw to a six-year, $129 million contract.
“I know the Yankees have had some interest in the past, and there were a lot of rumors this winter that got my family excited,” Corbin said to Nightengale. “It would have been cool. You just want to go where you’re wanted, and every team will have an opportunity. I would love to be on a contending team for sure, but we’ll see what happens.”
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Corbin also met with the Washington Nationals earlier this week. It’s unclear if the lefty plans to meet with any other teams.