The Yankees got dealt their first loss of the offseason Tuesday, as top starting pitcher Patrick Corbin agreed with the Washington Nationals on a 6-year, $140 million contract.
Jon Heyman of Fancred and Billy Witz of the New York Times indicated that the Yankees offer went 5-years, $100 million. Heyman further indicated that the Philadelphia Phillies, the third finalist for Corbin, offered a 5-year deal as well. The finances, however, are unknown at this moment.
By trading for fellow lefty James Paxton, Brian Cashman put the Yankees in a position where they did not have to overpay for Corbin. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, they’ll pivot to pursuing the following “Plan B” pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn. They’re all former Yankees, and they’re all radically different pitchers with distinct contractual demands. The narrative is that the Yankees want the rotation wrapped up by the beginning of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas this coming weekend, so look for some activity there.
Corbin had never pitched for anyone but the small-market Diamondbacks in the NL West. His slider was among the most effective pitches in the majors, yet there was worry should that pitch dim in effectiveness or hitters became more attuned to laying off it. Corbin was just a few years removed from Tommy John surgery and a 5.15 ERA, and only in his 2018 walk year did he perform more like a top-of-the-rotation starter.
There was a lot to like and in a different day perhaps the Yankees would have ignored what gave them hesitation and provided whatever it took to get a deal done. But the Yanks felt they were stretching to go from four to five years in a potential offer, and so when agent John Courtright told them he could get six years, this version of the Yanks essentially said there was nothing more to discuss.
The Nationals had been aggressive late in their negotiations with Corbin. They added that extra year (and probably some extra money) and that’s what secured the lefty. He’ll be due $23,333,333 annually through the 2024 season. That will make Corbin the 11th highest-paid pitcher for 2019, with his Nationals teammates Stephen Strasburg ($38,333,334) and Max Scherzer ($37,405,562) placing first and second, respectively.