In a turn of events not often seen in the baseball world, the New York Yankees were actually outbid for one of their top offseason targets.
Southpaw starter Patrick Corbin, who had grown up a Yankees fan and was coming off a career season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, opted to take a six-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals rather than sign with his hometown team.
The Yankees were reportedly hesitant to offer Corbin six years, sending him a five-year, $100 million proposal (per Fancred’s Jon Heyman) that turned out to be not enough.
With starting pitcher still a top priority for the Yankees despite acquiring James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason, a similar situation last year could offer a bit of insight as to what the franchise might do next.
New York was beaten out by the Los Angeles Angels in the sweepstakes for Japanese dual-threat and now 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani. They quickly turned it around and traded for 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins.
With Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings getting underway on Dec. 10, the Yankees now have a pocket full of money that could have been used on Corbin and reallocated elsewhere.
And they might not have to do any sort of negotiating either.
Last month, the Yankees and Cleveland Indians entered talks about a possible trade involving star pitcher Corey Kluber. MLB Network’s Joel Sherman noted there was not “much traction,” it could be re-visited.
And it’s something the Yankees might want to consider.
Kluber provides an established and much more reliable option than the current Yankees free-agent backup plans for Corbin. Multiple reports have put the Yankees in on Nathan Eovaldi, Dallas Keuchel or re-signing J.A. Happ.
The Indians ace would take a Yankees rotation from solid to elite, the 32-year-old averaging 17 wins, and a 2.85 ERA since 2014. He’s won a pair of Cy Young Awards and has finished in the voting’s top three in four of the last five years.
He is under team control through the 2021 season where he’ll be making $17.5 million over the next two seasons before making $18 million in the final year of his current deal. That’s at least $5 million less per season than the average annual salary on Corbin’s new deal.
It might have to take a young talent to coax Cleveland into making a deal, but the Yankees offense is potent enough. Kluber transforms the team from a World Series threat to a World Series favorite.