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The Yankees are front-runners for Patrick Corbin, but these other options are just as compelling

With so many impact players available, this year's free-agent season has the potential to be the most hectic we've ever seen. To keep everything organized, we're bringing back the Free Agent Matrix to parse out where this year's top talents might end up signing.
No player available this winter hit the free-agent market at a better time than left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is coming off a career season in which he made the All-Star team, struck out 246 batters in 200 innings and was one of the most valuable pitchers in all of baseball. Few players hit the open market on such a high note, and at just 29 years old, Corbin is an awfully attractive option for a team looking for a front-line arm.
It's worth nothing that it was no guarantee that Corbin would reach this point. In his first full season back from Tommy John surgery in 2016, he struggled immensely, posting a 5.15 ERA in 155 2/3 innings for Arizona. Since, Corbin has improved markedly each of the last two seasons, culminating in his excellent 2018 campaign. The southpaw's fastball has never been the kind to overpower hitters, but his slider is one of the most effective breaking pitches in all of baseball, and a newly introduced slow curveball also helped Corbin rack up more whiffs in 2018.
Who could be in the market for Corbin this winter? Let's take a look:
The Dark Horses

It seems unlikely that Arizona will shell out another big contract for a pitcher just a few years removed from giving Zack Greinke $206.5 million, but if the team feels like it can't contend without Corbin atop its rotation alongside Greinke, then it might just do whatever it takes to make it work. Unfortunately, it likely won't be able to count on any sort of "hometown discount," because Corbin's real hometown might be calling on the other side of the country. 

Might Corbin want to return to the organization that drafted him and help The Fightin' Troutanis get back to October? Corbin never threw a big league pitch for the Angels, as he was dealt to Arizona in the Dan Haren trade at the 2010 Trade Deadline. But this is a team in dire need of rotation help, and bringing Corbin back into the fold could be an intriguing option. 
For all the bullpenning the Brewers became known for down the stretch, it's safe to say they would still love to have a bona fide No. 1 starter who doesn't necessitate a complex deployment of different pitchers in one game. GM David Stearns made a huge splash last offseason, acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. Could Stearns go the free-agent route this offseason with another big move? 

Even if Bryce Harper chooses to leave D.C., the Nationals will still boast one of the more talented rosters in the league and could still have enough to compete in the NL East. Plus, since we know they are willing to spend a hefty amount, perhaps they'd also be willing to give a sizable fraction of that to improve a rotation that already features one of the best pitchers on earth in Max Scherzer. Washington is still eager to get over the NLDS hump -- maybe Corbin is the secret ingredient. 
After getting the news that Lance McCullers Jr. will be out for all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery, the Astros could lose more than 500 innings of their pitching staff if free agents Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton choose not to return to Houston -- and Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander will both be free agents after next season. The Astros do have a bevy of young arms that could step into these big shoes over the next few years, but Corbin could provide a bit more certainty in the long haul. 
The Favorite
It's been no secret that the Yankees have long been intrigued by the idea of binging in Corbin, who grew up a Yankees fan in Syracuse, N.Y., to join their rotation. On paper, it does look like a supremely obvious fit, and Brian Cashman may already be hinting about his interest in the lefty. Generally, "Player X grew up a Team X fan, so surely he would want to sign there" narratives don't hold up all that well, but this one does appear to pass the smell test a little more convincingly. 
Jake: Astros
Jordan: Brewers