The Washington Nationals make a surprise splash and swipe former Arizona Diamondbacks ace and top free-agent starter Patrick Corbin on a 6-year $140 mil deal.
That’s right, the Nationals came into the conversation earlier today and pulled the rug out underneath teams like the Yankees and Phillies, leaving clubs scrambling to be the first to the next best free agent starter.
But sometimes, it’s just a little something extra that makes all the difference in these negotiations, and for Corbin it the 6th year that only Washington was willing to offer.
Where do the Yankees go now?
The Bronx Bombers struck out on Corbin simply because the “cash-strapped” Yankees had to convince the best starter on the market to take less to play for them. The Nationals are a fine team but a team that will likely begin their 2019 season without franchise face Bryce Harper – despite the Nationals being one of the most active teams this off-season.
Now, the good news for the Yankees is that their rotation already gained an excellent starter in James Paxton just last week, tossing him into a starting pitching group that consists of Luis Severino, Mashiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Sonny Gray (assuming he remains on this roster).
That rotation already had enough to be considered one of the better groups in baseball prior to the addition of Paxton, but what the Yankees were hoping to get in Corbin was a staff ace. But there are back up options that could still help this Yankees rotation go to the next level.
New York’s focus will now shift to the two top remaining starters who also happen to be former Yankees. Veteran J.A. Happ, who posted a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees last season, and Nathan Evoladi, whose stock has never been higher after tossing fastball in the triple digits while on his way to winning a World Series with Boston last season.
Both have their blemishes, Happ is 35 years old and unlikely to make the same impact he did a year ago and Evoladi missed all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery and has only thrown close to 200 IP once in his career. But neither is going to cost the Yankees $140+ mil, meaning the club could sign either Happ or Evoladi while also making a serious run at Manny Machado.
Now, just because the Yankees missed out on Corbin doesn’t directly translate to more money for Machado or mean they’re going to be “all in” on the superstar infielder. Currently, the Yankees payroll is projected to land somewhere slightly above $220 million in 2019, assuming the Yankees make some additions.
However, GM Brian Cashman has roughly $80 million to play with before reaching the point where the club would truly start to feel the impact of going over a higher tier of the Luxury Tax. So realistically, the Yankees wanted to truly go all in, they shouldn’t have a problem spending to get their guy.
The off-season’s top starting pitcher may be off the market for the Yankees and the rest of baseball, with the Winter Meetings just a week away, expect New York to be involved in the Harper Bazaar as well as anything regarding Manny Machado – they do choose to spend this winter.