A superstar-laden free agent class will draw the attention of the Phillies
No free agent in the history of baseball will draw more attention next offseason than outfielder Bryce Harper, who the Phillies could offer $300 million to be the team’s next superstar.
As many fans know, Harper isn’t the only big name free agent next year in a historic class. I can go on forever about names such as Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Pollock, Yasiel Puig, D.J. LaMehieu, and others expected to hit the open market.
It’s a class full of young, exciting power hitters, but weak in young pitchers with ace potential. In fact, the only pitcher on the free agent market next year who could garner superstar money is Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, a name Phillies fans should know heading into next season.
Corbin became an All-Star for Arizona in his second major league season going 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA. After being named the club’s opening day starter for 2014, Corbin suffered a torn UCL in his pitching elbow, prompting season-ending Tommy John surgery. The budding superstar was thought to be lost, going 11-18 with a 4.60 ERA over his first two years removed from surgery.
Since last year, Corbin has bounced back in a big way, leading the Diamondbacks staff highlighted by Zach Grinkie, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and converted reliever Archie Bradley. This season Corbin is 4-0 with an ERA of 2.12 with 67 strikeouts in just 51 innings, a tremendous start to the year for the 28-year-old.
Projecting forward, Corbin is the best pitcher in the free agent class mostly featuring burnouts James Shields, Adam Wainwright, C.C. Sabathia, and Gio Gonzalez. Former Cy Young winner Dallas Kuechel was originally thought to be the star of the class, but it appears the pressure of pending free agency and repeating as World Series champions in Houston has weighed on him, as he’s gone 3-5 with a velocity trending the wrong direction.
Corbin brings something to Philadelphia they have none of, which is lefty pitching. He can also force ground balls with the 22nd best groundball/flyball ratio in the league at .98, and the strikeout is no stranger to Corbin, who averages a strikeout 34.5% of the time. That’s better than Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, and Stephen Strasburg this season, and just behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and tied with Gerrit Cole for third-best in the league.
If Corbin were acquired this offseason, here’s how the starting rotation would likely shakeup for 2019.
- Aaron Nola
- Patrick Corbin
- Jake Arrieta
- Nick Pivetta
The fifth job would be a battle between Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, Enyel De Los Santos, and Ben Lively among others. That’s a rotation prime to compete in the playoffs.
Having Corbin, Nola, and Pivetta on the right side of 30 for several years is a unique advantage for Philadelphia, and the pending arrival of prospects De Los Santos, Sixto Sanchez, and Adonis Medina would bolster the rotation even more.
Harper may be the white whale in free agency, but don’t sleep on Corbin as the superstar to add come December.