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The Yankees passed on these free agents last year. How did they do?

The decision to pass on Corbin and Machado looks different in light of the Cole signing.

2019 World Series Game 7 - Washington Nationals v. Houston Astros Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Before recently signing Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking contract, the Yankees were known to be a bit reluctant to spend their money. Especially ever since George Steinbrenner died and his son Hal took over. Marquis players such as Patrick Corbin and Manny Machado had the interest of the Yankees and their fans, but neither of them were given serious offers. Did the Yankees miss out on their performances that could have propelled them to World Series No. 28 in 2019? Or did the Yankees make the right call by passing them both?

Well, speaking of winning, let’s start with a reigning world champion...

Patrick Corbin

Hitting the free agent market at-age 29 and coming off an All-Star season, Corbin was almost a must-have for New York. The Yankees’ rotation wasn’t all that impressive in 2018, and there was a mutual liking between both parties. Nonetheless, the left-hander signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

Afterwords, the Yankees reiterated their interest in Corbin, but thought that the acquisition of James Paxton earlier in the offseason would be enough help for the team. While Big Maple had a good season for the Bombers, Corbin had an even better one for the Nats.

Corbin threw over 200 innings last season while sporting a 3.25 ERA and 3.49 FIP. Not to forget his 10.60 K/9 and 4.8 fWAR, which was the sixth-highest among National League starters. He also came up big during his team’s playoff run as he pitched as both a starter and reliever. Corbin’s most notable postseason performance came in Game Seven where he threw three shutout innings out of the bullpen en route to Washington’s World Series victory.

Would he have helped the Yankees in 2019 and beyond? There’s no doubt. But I’m sure many of the people who were upset the Yanks didn’t sign him are now glad they held onto that money in order to sign Cole.

Manny Machado

Many Yankees fans wanted Machado, while others wanted no part of him. He entered free agency coming off a season where he was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers a couple weeks before the trade deadline. He had a postseason to forget with LA, striking out in 25% of his at-bats and was involved in a multitude of controversial plays. Let’s not forget the “Johnny Hustle” comment which turned teams and fans away.

The Yankees had interest in the infielder, and like Corbin, Machado wanted to wear pinstripes. It was reported that New York’s final offer was an eight-year deal for around $220 million. Obviously the two sides never reached an agreement and he ended up signing with the San Diego Padres for a 10-year, $300 million contract. He had a decent first season there, hitting .256/.334/.462 with 32 homers and a 108 wRC+. Those numbers are not worth $300 million, but he still has nine more seasons with San Diego to be the player he’s capable of being.

Instead of bringing Machado to the Bronx, the Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu to a two-year deal. As we all known, LeMahieu exceeded all expectations and was New York’s best player in 2019. I don’t think any Yankees fan is losing sleep over missing out on Machado.

Because the Yankees didn’t sign either Corbin or Machado, they were able to reel in an even bigger fish in Gerrit Cole the following year. In a way, this relates back to 2007 when Johan Santana was a free agent. The Yankees liked him, but they knew CC Sabathia was going to hit the market in 2009 and they loved him, so they passed on Santana. Hopefully for the Yankees, Cole will have the career Sabathia did in New York.