Patrick Corbin is one of the Yankees top free agency targets, but if his contract demands are too high then Brian Cashman will pivot towards a trade.
The Yankees rolled out the red carpet for Patrick Corbin’s visit to the Bronx on Thursday, but the talented left-hander left without agreeing to terms on a big contract. At the very least, that increases the chances that he’s going to sign elsewhere this winter.
For the record, no one is saying the Yankees are out of contention here. In fact, we believe they’re still the favorite to sign Corbin. Instead, we’re making the point that Brian Cashman has a price in mind that he won’t exceed to secure the big name free agent.
Recent reports claim Corbin is looking for a six-year contract while the Yankees are only comfortable offering him five years. That negotiating stance may change if other teams tell Corbin they’re willing to offer that sixth season. Specifically, the Philadelphia Phillies seem ready to give Corbin the contract he wants.
Most people believe that if Corbin signs elsewhere, the Yankees will simply turn to a free agent alternative like J.A. Happ or Nathan Eovaldi. That’s absolutely possible. However, it’s not the only route the franchise might take.
The idea of going back into the trade market is a very intriguing possibility. Cashman already moved for James Paxton in the dead of night. There’s nothing to say the Yankees can’t make two big trades for starting pitchers in the same offseason.
Making another move would significantly harm the Yankees farm system. It’s hard to imagine bringing a premium arm to the Bronx without giving up Estevan Florial. The young center fielder has a ton of fans inside the organization. Losing him would be painful.
On the other hand, getting a potential ace is never going to be a cheap move. Moving Florial should be an acceptable cost if the Yankees can bring back someone like Corey Kluber or Madison Bumgarner. Both legitimate aces are available if the price is right in a trade this winter.
Making trades for cost controlled pitchers would also open up the possibility of Cashman making a massive offer for someone like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The Yankees absolutely have money to spend this summer. If they don’t spend a ton of cash on pitching, it doesn’t mean they will sit out the free agent market entirely. Instead, they’ll look to strengthen Aaron Boone’s lineup with those dollars.
The most likely course of action for the Yankees remains using some of their free agency budget to nab one more starting pitcher. If Corbin doesn’t sign with the team, Cashman’s plans could pivot quickly. Don’t rule out the idea that another big trade for an arm is on the team’s horizon.