Phillies free agency target: Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 04: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning of the MLB game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field on July 4, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 04: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning of the MLB game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field on July 4, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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The best pitcher on the free agent market could be targeted by the Phillies

Patrick Corbin is a pitcher I’ve targeted as a future Phillies starter for a couple of months, first highlighting him in May as a player to watch. A lot of the players on the west coast don’t have as much notoriety as those on the east coast, and Corbin falls into that gap.

Drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Angels, Corbin was traded to Arizona in the Dan Haren deal along with Rafael Rodriguez, Tyler Skaggs and Joe Saunders in 2010.

Corbin joined the major league staff in 2012 and in his second year he earned a trip to the All-Star game. The lefty finished 2013 with a 14-8 record and a 3.41 ERA, but missed the following season with Tommy John surgery.

After three mediocre seasons coming off surgery with a 4.35 ERA in 85 games, Corbin bounced back and made his second All-Star team in 2018. He finished the season with a career-best 3.15 ERA in 33 starts over 200 innings with 246 strikeouts.

PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 03: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning of the MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on August 3, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 03: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning of the MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on August 3, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

In an age where starting pitchers are pulled before facing the lineup for the third time, Corbin pitched into the sixth inning in 28 of his 33 starts.

On April 17, 2018, Corbin threw a one-hitter against the San Francisco Giants, allowing only a two-out single to Brandon Belt in the eighth inning.

In a weak free agent class of starting pitchers, Corbin is arguably the best player available. He has the second-best ERA among free agent starters who pitched at least 150 innings, sitting only behind 35-year-old Charlie Morton.

Corbin made $7.5 million last year in his final arbitration case before entering this offseason a free agent for the first time. He stands to receive a life-changing contract that could very well likely pay him more than $100 million.

While Corbin posted excellent numbers in 2018 and was as consistent as they come, he’s only posted two seasons in his six-year career with an ERA under 3.50. He’s never pitched for a big market club with the type of pressure Philadelphia and a six-figure contract brings.

A career 56-54 record is far from impressive, but just as he’s never played for a high-pressure team, he’s never pitched for a playoff team.

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Corbin allowed 15 home runs last year, nine of which were at Chase Field in Arizona. The dimensions for Chase Field and Citizens Bank Park are very similar in terms of distance to the walls.

The right field wall in Philadelphia is five feet closer to home than the one in Arizona, and the center field wall in Arizona is a couple of feet deeper than the one in Citizens Bank Park.

Nearly half of the home runs given up by Corbin this year went to left field. While the wall in Philadelphia is a foot closer than the one in Arizona, it’s three feet taller, which could help with line-drive home runs.

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Corbin will receive life-changing money this offseason, and the Phillies have the means to pay him that. They need a left-handed starter, and Corbin would give them one of the best top-three starters in baseball, pairing with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.

The Phillies should and will be in play for Corbin, but playing for his hometown Yankees, who also need a starter and are closer to winning a championship, might entice Corbin to go elsewhere.

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