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Why the Yankees should keep tabs on this soon-to-be free agent southpaw


If the Yankees want to fulfill their goal of becoming a championship-caliber club once again, the current issues involving their starting rotation must be addressed.

Granted, New York’s staff — which consists of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery — is, at the moment, healthy. But the lack of consistency and length from starters not named Severino (who’s emerged as a bona fide ace) has been a contributing factor to the Yankees’ early mood swings. It’s one of the reasons why some fans, who hold rather high expectations, feel uneasy — or frustrated that Brian Cashman balked on pursuing an additional arm (such as Gerrit Cole) during the offseason.

In the simplest terms, the Yankees’ rotation needs to perform better. The same starting five that helped push the club into the postseason in 2017 has to live up to its billing in 2018. But, come trade deadline time, when Cashman will most likely man the phones with the intent to enhance his roster, count on the Yankees searching for a reliable and affordable arm. 

Someone like Patrick Corbin, for example.

The 28-year-old southpaw is off to a tremendous start with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Right now, he’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball, as he owns a 4-0 record, a 1.89 ERA, a 0.66 WHIP, and a Major League-leading 49 strikeouts.

Corbin’s pitching arsenal features a sweeping slider, and opposing hitters have swung and missed at the pitch 33.1-percent of the time, according to Brooke Baseball’s advanced stats. He set his bar even higher one week ago, when he tossed seven no-hit innings against the San Francisco Giants for a shutout win.

Corbin can mix his breaking balls with mid-90 mph fastballs and sinkers, and when he’s dialed in, hitters simply struggle.

When this season ends, Corbin will become an unrestricted free agent, joining a historic group of stars (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, to name a few), who will test the market with the hope of receiving record-shattering contracts. 

Since the Yankees have stressed the significance of getting under the $197-million luxury tax threshold in time for this free agent bonanza, their hat will certainly be thrown into the ring. Sure, it’s easy for them to slobber over the image of Harper or Machado contributing to an already potent lineup. But as far as pitching is concerned, shouldn’t the Yankees be keeping an eye on Corbin? The answer is yes. 

“It would definitely be great to play [in New York],’’ Corbin recently told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I grew up a Yankee fan. My whole family are Yankee fans. My mom, my dad, my grandpa, everybody. Really, every generation of my family has been Yankee fans.

“Living up in Syracuse, everybody’s a Yankee fan. Not too many Mets fans up there.”

Corbin is an upstate guy. He told USA Today that he treasures an autographed Andy Pettitte jersey that he recently purchased. All signs point toward Corbin wanting the Yankees.

Seems like a simple sales pitch for Cashman.

But if the Yankees don’t want to wait until the winter for Corbin, that’s when the trade deadline comes into play. The Yankees and Diamondbacks have recently been business partners (trades for Brandon Drury and Didi Gregorius), plus they reportedly spoke to each other about Corbin this winter, although a deal never materialized. Corbin is due $7.5 million this season, and that’s a number the Yankees could handle without the fear of creeping closer to the luxury tax threshold. 

The pieces are in place for the Yankees to make a move on Corbin, especially since the Diamondbacks aren’t exactly in a position to spend freely (Zack Greinke still owed $95 million after this season). Corbin has expressed interest in signing long term with Arizona, but like most soon-to-be free agents, he’s open to listening to all offers.

“I know the Yankees have had some interest in the past, and there were a lot of rumors this winter that got my family excited,’’ Corbin told USA Today. “It would have been cool. You just want to go where you’re wanted, and every team will have an opportunity.

“I would love to be on a contending team for sure, but we’ll see what happens.”

In 2013 — one year before he underwent season ending Tommy John surgery — Corbin went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA in 208.1 innings. He also made an All Star Game appearance. If his April numbers hold, he could be in for a career season.


If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.