Yankees fans are understandably disappointed that Patrick Corbin won’t be wearing pinstripes next season, but passing on the lefty was the right move.
When the offseason first began, signing Patrick Corbin looked like an absolute necessity for the Yankees. However, the deal for James Paxton changed things. Specifically, it gave Brian Cashman the ability to say no to Corbin’s lofty salary demands.
This doesn’t mean Corbin isn’t a good pitcher. He’ll clearly help the Nationals contend for the NL East crown over the next few seasons. Instead, this is a commentary on why the Yankees were wise to exercise some fiscal restraint.
Corbin’s deal with Washington will pay him $140 million over six seasons. The last year of the deal proved to be more than the Yankees were willing to swallow. It’s being widely reported that Cashman would not offer the talented southpaw a contract longer than five years.
That’s a prudent choice given Corbin’s limited track record and age. He was outstanding for the Diamondbacks in 2018, but he struggled mightily in 2016 with an ERA of 5.55 in just over 155 innings.
It’s unlikely he’s going to regress to that level of mediocrity, but the point is he hasn’t been a consistent ace for multiple years.
There’s also serious reason to worry about his declining velocity. A simple look at his fangraphs velocity logs make it obvious he started to run out of steam down the stretch last year. Part of that can certainly be explained by the fact that he threw 200 innings for the first time in his career.
Some of it might be a signing of oncoming age-related regression. The Nationals are betting heavily on him continuing to throw in the mid-90s for the next six years. It’s not very common for pitcher’s velocity to bounce back at Corbin’s age.
The simple truth here is that adding Corbin with a mammoth deal would have simply been duplicating what Paxton is expected to give the Yankees. Corbin was better last season, but Paxton has flashed more dominant stuff during his career.
His health concerns are absolutely legitimate, but he arguably has a higher ceiling than Corbin. The fact that he still has two seasons left of team control also made him a more attractive asset for Cashman.
Adding Corbin would have helped solidify the Yankees rotation for 2019 and beyond, but it’s very possible he’s not the ace of the staff that Washington is paying for. That’s really what the Yankees need to acquire at this point in the offseason.
Time will tell whether or not Cashman has another big trade up his sleeve.