The Nationals are in agreement with free-agent starting pitcher Patrick Corbin on a six-year, $140 million contract, as The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes and Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan were first to report on Tuesday:
Nationals have agreed to terms on a deal with Patrick Corbin, according to a person familiar. Pending physical.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 4, 2018
Source confirms that Patrick Corbin's six-year deal with the Washington Nationals is for $140 million.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2018
Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the deal will likely include deferred money.
Corbin, 29, was widely regarded as the top starting pitcher on the free-agent market this offseason and is coming off his best season to date, during which he posted a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 246 strikeouts and just 48 walks over 33 starts (200 innings) for the Diamondbacks. His addition should re-establish the Nationals’ rotation as one of, if not the best in the majors, as he’ll slide in as a co-ace (but really, a co-No. 2) alongside Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. They could perhaps stand to improve over Tanner Roark and Joe Ross at the back of the rotation, but Roark is a guy who was one of the most dominant starters in the National League from 2014-16, while Ross has shown plenty of promise when healthy; it’s just that injuries — most notably Tommy John surgery in July 2017 — have held him back for most of the past three seasons. Regardless, the top three is unbelievably impressive, with Scherzer being a three-time Cy Young winner and six-time All-Star who is likely headed to the Hall of Fame when all is said and done, Strasburg being a three-time All-Star who has never posted an ERA over 4.00 or a WHIP above 1.20 over nine major-league seasons, and Corbin having been one of the most dominant lefties in the game in 2018.
Though he was one of the best starters in the majors this year, there certainly has to be some concern that Corbin will be a bit of a one-year wonder. This was the first year he had posted an ERA under 4.00 since 2015, and he’s just two years removed from a disastrous 2016 season during which he was demoted to the bullpen while posting a 5.15 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. He missed a season-and-a-half after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March of 2014, so the Nationals will have to hope that operation holds up over the long term, too.
Corbin’s total dollars already beat out those that every free agent from last offseason except Eric Hosmer earned, as the first baseman received an eight-year, $144 million deal from the Padres. His $23.3 million AAV also beats out those of all free agents from last offseason except Jake Arrieta, who received $75 million over three years.
The lefty’s decision to go to Washington comes as a fairly major surprise, considering there had been talk all year of Corbin, a New York native, going home to pitch for the team he grew up rooting for. More recently, there had been plenty of rumors about the Phillies making the most aggressive push for Corbin.