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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Phillies could use another strong starting pitcher, and lefty Patrick Corbin fits the bill perfectly

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(Corbin has spent his first seven big-league seasons with Arizona)

There has been a great deal of warranted commentary regarding the upcoming Major League Baseball “Hot Stove” season here in Philadelphia.
Most of that talk has been understandably centered around the two biggest free agent bats, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
However, there is little denying that if the Phillies want to step up and contend over the next three or four years, they need to add another winning arm to their starting rotation.
Aaron Nola stepped up in 2018 to demonstrate that he can be the young ace for whom the franchise has been searching for a few years. Jake Arrieta was signed as a free agent early in spring training. He played a solid, veteran second-fiddle to Nola for much of this past season.
Behind those two, the trio of Vince VelasquezNick Pivetta, and Zach Eflin received the vast majority of starting pitching opportunities.
The level of major step forward that the club will require in order to successfully battle and overcome their National League East Division rivals next year cannot be expected to come from all three of them progressing.
Luckily for the Phillies there is a starting pitcher available in free agency who would perfectly slot in where needed, as a strong left-handed starting pitching option for their rotation.
During what was his sixth season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Patrick Corbin turned 29-years-old in mid-July. He was originally a second-round draft pick of the Angels back in 2009, and was dealt to Arizona a year later in a trade package for veteran starter Dan Haren.
As he reached his prime years over the last two seasons, Corbin began to show significant progress on the mound. This past year the New York native became a National League All-Star for the second time.
Corbin made 33 starts for the Dbacks, allowing just 162 hits over 200 innings pitched. He produced an outstanding 246/48 K:BB ratio with a 3.15 ERA, 1.050 WHIP, an ERA+ of 137, and an outstanding 2.47 FIP mark

There is no reason that Corbin should not be expected to deliver five strong seasons during his next contract, which would take him through his age 33 campaign. That is the same age Arrieta will turn during spring training next season.
Corbin made $7.5 million this past year and has earned just over $15.5 million during his Major League Baseball career. This will be his big contract opportunity, and it can be expected that his agents at ISE Baseball will be looking to maximize for their client.
David Adler at MLB.com commented just yesterday on Corbin’s repertoire, which is breaking-ball heavy:
“Corbin is slider-dominant…his most-used pitch by more than 10 percent over his sinker…Combining that with his curveball, Corbin threw breaking pitches 50.3 percent of the time this season. Only Clayton Kershaw threw more. They were the only regular starters who threw breaking balls on more than half of their pitches.”
A lefty with a great slider. I think Phillies fans may be familiar with a couple of those types. Do the names Steve Carlton and Cole Hamels ring a bell?
It is possible that Kershaw could opt-out of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, that would mean giving up $70 million guaranteed dollars over the next two seasons.
If that doesn’t happen, then Corbin likely becomes the most attractive starting pitcher on the free agent market this off-season.
So what kind of deal are we talking? Last year, Yu Darvish got $126 million over six years. Three years ago, David Price landed a seven-year deal worth $217 million.
I would suspect that we would be talking about a six-year contract in the range of $150 million, which would pretty much split those two deals down the middle. However, if Kershaw is off the market and big teams like the Yankees get involved, it might take a seventh year to land Corbin.
I don’t know whether the Phillies are prepared to step up for a starting pitcher at that level. Maybe they would prefer to go cheaper and older, opting for someone like J.A. Happ or Dallas Keuchel.
But if they want a lefty who has a chance to be a difference-maker for a handful of  seasons, Corbin looks like the best option.

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