Sources: Nats meet with prized FA lefty Corbin
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals met with free-agent left-hander Patrick Corbin on Wednesday in D.C., sources confirmed to MLB.com, beginning a push to land one of the premier starting pitchers available this winter.
Corbin is on a meet-and-greet tour along the East Coast this week, which began in Philadelphia on Tuesday and reportedly includes New York on Thursday. And he made a stop in Washington in between.
• The latest Patrick Corbin rumors
The club has not confirmed the meeting, which was first reported by ESPN, but it served as a signal that the Nats would like to add a starting pitcher to the front of their rotation this offseason to pair with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Corbin, 29, is coming off a career year in Arizona, where he posted a 3.15 ERA with 246 strikeouts in 200 innings and finished fifth in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award.
Normally one of the hallmarks of their club, starting pitching was an issue for the Nationals in 2018. Their starters posted a 4.03 ERA, ninth in the NL, their worst finish since 2011. So their interest in Corbin comes as no surprise. He would provide the Nats an elite starter younger than their pair of aces, and a left-hander to help balance their rotation.
"You never have enough starting pitching," Mike Rizzo said at the General Managers meetings this month. "We'd love to get ourselves a guy that we can throw out there and gives us a chance to win every time he goes out there."
Corbin will also be heavily sought after. He met with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, and he is reportedly set to meet with the Yankees in New York on Thursday. The New York Post is reporting that Corbin is the Yankees' top priority this offseason. If the Nationals are serious about adding him, they will need to bid highly for his services.
And the Nats are in position to do so, especially if Bryce Harper decides to sign elsewhere this offseason, giving the club extra financial flexibility. Rizzo said his offseason plans will not hinge on Harper's decision, and this meeting is another indication so. Corbin would slot in nicely alongside Scherzer and Strasburg, giving the Nationals perhaps the most formidable rotation in the National League while keeping him away from two of their division rivals in Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Corbin is considered the best pitcher available in free agency because of his youth and breakout 2018 season. He posted 6.3 Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs, last season with one of the best sliders in the game. But prior to last season he posted a 4.35 ERA from 2015-17, which included missing all of the 2014 and part of the '15 season after Tommy John surgery, although the Nats have never shied away from a pitcher who's had the procedure. Washington has also reportedly expressed interest in left-hander Dallas Keuchel and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, the other two top starting pitching prizes on the market.