After a breakout 2018 campaign in which he tied for fourth among qualified hurlers in WAR (6.3, per FanGraphs) and ranked fifth in strikeouts (246), Patrick Corbin is now free to sign anywhere as a first-time free agent.
Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.
Corbin and White Sox might be a match
Nov. 16: The White Sox are looking to add in free agency, and they have the payroll flexibility to do it. They've been linked to the two superstar bats on the market, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but they need starting pitching, too. And that could put Corbin on their radar.
Corbin could be an excellent fit for an up-and-coming White Sox team that wants to open their window to compete, as NBC Sports Chicago notes. The left-hander is just 29 and coming off his best career season, so he could help anchor Chicago's rotation both now and in the future.
The White Sox have immediate starting-pitching vacancies to fill, with star prospect Michael Kopech set to miss 2019 after having Tommy John surgery and James Shields hitting free agency. Corbin would give Chicago a frontline starter for the upcoming season, and he'd still be around, with prime years remaining, when Kopech returns.
The competition to sign Corbin will likely be intense, though. He's probably the top starter available in free agency, and he'll have no shortage of suitors. The Yankees, for example, have been linked to Corbin, as have the Phillies and others.
Could Beane pull off another surprise by signing Corbin?
Nov. 15: The A's were one of baseball's biggest surprises in 2018, winning 97 games after starting the year with MLB's lowest payroll, and The Athletic's Jim Bowden thinks executive president of baseball operations Billy Beane should look to pull off another big stunner this offseason by signing Patrick Corbin.
In his story (subscription required) looking at one move each 2018 postseason team needs to make to get back to October, Bowden points out that the small-market A's have the resources to sign at least one starting pitcher to a big-money deal. With Oakland's defense, pitcher-friendly home park and lineup, Bowden considers the club a perfect landing spot for Corbin.
Beyond Sean Manaea, who may miss all of 2019 following left shoulder surgery, the A's relied heavily on journeymen in the rotation this past season, with Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, Brett Anderson and Mike Fiers combining to make 63 starts for Oakland. All four of those hurlers are free agents, leaving the A's with an uncertain rotation picture.
Trout needs help. Can Corbin provide it?
Nov. 14: With Mike Trout under control for just two more seasons, the clock is ticking for the Angels to build a competitive team around him. With that in mind, MLB.com's Richard Justice puts the club third on his list of teams that could spend big in free agency this offseason.
Justice writes that Los Angeles needs "pitching, pitching and more pitching," and the best starter on the market is arguably Patrick Corbin, making the left-hander a realistic target.
Given their recent history with pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Angels may be hesitant to pursue Corbin, who had the procedure in 2014. Dallas Keuchel would probably be a safer option, but the Angels can't really afford to be conservative as they try to close the gap between themselves, the Astros and the A's.
With Garrett Richards entering free agency after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season, and Shohei Ohtani also recovering from his own Tommy John procedure, the Angels need an ace. Los Angeles can't lean too heavily on any of the top six pitchers on its current depth chart, as all have dealt with significant injury problems.
Would a Corbin/Donaldson duo be a better buy than Harper?
Nov. 14: The Phillies and the Cardinals placed first and second on MLB.com's list of teams that are ready to spend big this offseason, with Richard Justice noting that both clubs would be a great fit for Bryce Harper. But Justice also mentions a potential alternative for both teams -- signing Patrick Corbin and Josh Donaldson.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman projects Harper will sign for $330 million over 11 years, giving him an average annual value of $30 million. Agent Scott Boras is believed to be asking for upwards of $400 million, and there's a good chance Harper will end up making at least $35 million per year.
Per Heyman's projections, the Corbin/Donaldson duo would cost $38 million on average, with Corbin landing a five-year contract for $100 million and Donaldson signing for $36 million over two seasons.
There are risk factors associated with both approaches, but signing Corbin and Donaldson may have more short-term upside than using that money on Harper alone. Corbin was worth 6.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2018, per FanGraphs, while Donaldson averaged 6.9 WAR per season from '13-17. If the Phils or Cards got the best versions of Corbin and Donaldson, it could put them over the top in their respective divisions.
What would a Yankees spending spree look like?
Nov. 13: Picture Manny Machado, Patrick Corbin and Corey Kluber in pinstripes. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman does just that in a column for the New York Post.
To be clear, Sherman is doing little more than speculating on such a scenario by harkening back to the days when the mercurial George Steinbrenner was the owner of the Yankees, not his more patient son, Hal. Still, it's fun at least to wonder whether there's any way this could play out, especially after New York just watched its bitter rival, the Red Sox, win their fourth title since 2000 -- compared to two for the Yankees.
"The Yankees are, at minimum, intrigued by Machado," Sherman writes, "and his signing would give them latitude to use Miguel Andujar as the central trade piece to obtain Kluber - taking a logical leap that the Indians like the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up enough to deal their ace. Imagine 10 years at $330 million for Machado, six years at $126 million for Corbin (the Yu Darvish pact from last offseason) and the assumption of Kluber's Indians contract, which, if his 2020-21 options are picked up, has three years at $52.5 million left, but costs just $11.3 million toward the luxury tax in 2019."
That would, in theory, address the Yankees' biggest need by bringing in not one, but two front-of-the-rotation arms, while also putting another foundation piece at the hot corner in Machado. Will it happen? Unlikely. Could it happen? Maybe.
Corbin, Keuchel unlikely to be hurt by Draft-pick baggage
Nov. 13: While some players who rejected the qualifying offer in years past have had trouble finding suitors due to the Draft-pick compensation attached to them, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand doesn't think that will be a problem for Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel.
As Feinsand notes, the market for left-handed starters has shrunk considerably, with Clayton Kershaw re-signing with the Dodgers, David Price deciding not to opt out of his contract with the Red Sox, Hyun-Jin Ryu accepting the qualifying offer from Los Angeles and CC Sabathia re-signing with the Yankees on a one-year deal.
Corbin and Keuchel are arguably the only members of the top tier among all free-agent starters this offseason, J.A. Happ's reliability and Nathan Eovaldi's strong postseason notwithstanding. If any free-agent pitcher gets a nine-figure deal, it's unlikely to be anyone besides Corbin or Keuchel.
Corbin declines qualifying offer
Nov. 12: In a decision that suprised no one, Patrick Corbin has declined the D-backs' qualifying offer. Corbin now enters the free-agent pool as perhaps the most coveted starter after a career year in Arizona.
He figures to net a multi-year deal approaching $100 million in the coming months, with a higher average annual value than the $17.9 million included in the qualifying offer. Should Corbin sign with another club, the D-backs would receive a pick between Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A in next June's MLB Draft if his contract is worth more than $50 million, as expected.
Could this potential blockbuster trade add a surprise suitor for Corbin?
Nov. 11: It will likely take an offer of seismic proportions to convince the Cubs to part with star third baseman Kris Bryant. Could a package involving Noah Syndergaard do the trick?
SNY's Danny Abriano thinks that a swap of the hard-throwing Mets star for Chicago's former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner would make sense for both sides. And as he goes on to explain, if such a dramatic deal were to unfold, the impact could make ripples around the league, possibily even impacting the free-agency pursuits of high-end starters like Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi.
Why would it make sense for the Cubs? Abriano thinks that despite all of the high-profile names in Chicago's starting rotation, there is still a need for a true ace on the staff. He points to Jon Lester's diminishing numbers, Yu Darvish's inconsistent health and the inability of Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks to consistently pitch at an ace-caliber level as examples of why Syndergaard might be a good addition on the North Side.
Meanwhile, the Mets have a need for a right-handed power bat that could slot in at third base, and with New York reportedly not interested in pursuing Manny Machado, Bryant could offer a tantalizing alternative. Since Bryant hasn't yet hit free agency, if the Mets aren't willing to pay Bryce Harper or Machado to add a franchise-altering face, the Cubs third baseman could offer an outside-the-box solution.
With that said, if the Mets felt confident enough in Bryant's shoulder health to part with Syndergaard, they would likely seek a high-upside arm to bolster their rotation. Though Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or James Paxton could make sense as trade options, the prospect cost of acquiring one of those arms -- in addition to whatever prospects the Mets might send to Chicago to sweeten the Bryant deal -- might be prohibitive.
So in that case, the Mets might join the fray for Corbin, Eovaldi, Dallas Keuchel or other top starters in free agency. Though the bidding for Corbin and Keuchel are expected to be pricey with the Yankees in tow, new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has expressed that New York remains in win-now mode, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Mets were aggressive in free agency.
Can anyone outbid Yankees for Corbin or Happ?
Nov. 10: While the Yankees continue to be connected to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News does not think the club is a likely suitor for either player.
Madden writes that the Yanks' priority instead is "to add at least two more proven quality frontline pitchers," and he predicts that after staying under the luxury-tax threshold in 2018, New York "will not be out-bid for Patrick Corbin" or J.A. Happ, if it chooses to pursue them.
Per MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, some executives believe that Corbin will eventually net a deal similar to that of Yu Darvish, who signed with the Cubs for six years and $126 million last offseason. However, Morosi notes that the market could move slower for Corbin than it will for other starters, with Happ being mentioned as someone who could sign quickly.
It's possible that the deep-pocketed Yankees could come away with both left-handers if they don't like the asking price for trade targets such as Corey Kluber, Madison Bumgarner and James Paxton.