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Passing on Patrick Corbin is turning out to be the mistake of the year

Debating which tradeable pitcher can patch the hole in the rotation could have been avoided had the Yankees just ponyed up.

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Boy, what a week huh? We knew the Yankees needed pitching before that roadtrip from hell that saw their rotation blasted by the Twins and the Red Sox. We’re speeding toward the trade deadline and the only conversation we’re having is what guys like Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard are worth, and what the Yankees are willing to pay to patch what’s become a shaky starting rotation.

But if you reap what you sow, this is a predictable dilemma the Yankees are in, and one that could have largely been avoided had the team used their primary competitive advantage a couple of months ago. The Yankees decided they were priced out of the bidding for Patrick Corbin, who has done nothing but impress in his first season in Washington, and lo and behold, the Yankees need a lot of pitching help.

Pick a stat, any stat. ERA? Corbin’s ERA would be the best on the team. K-BB%? Ditto. HR rate, as we watch the Yankee starters give up long ball after long ball? Yeah Corbin would have the best home run rate on the team. If Patrick Corbin were a Yankee, he would be head and shoulders above every other arm in the rotation.

The difference between Corbin and the field is also highlighted when you compare him to the trade market:

The only guy on the trade block that has been better than Corbin across the board is Zack Greinke, and we don’t even know if Greinke is available, and if he is, the Yankees are not particularly interested in taking on that much salary, and so will have to part with their best prospects in order to incentivize Arizona to eat some of the remaining cash. We’re going in circles asking whether Robbie Ray can finally put it all together if he were traded, and Corbin was right there, with fewer question marks and costing only money.

After the trade for Stroman last night, the dominoes are already starting to fall into place, and we have to at least entertain the prospect that the Yankees end up not shoring up the rotation, especially given Cashman’s near fanatic devotion to “discipline”:

This is a pattern of behavior from the Yankees’ front office, and it’s not even based on valuing short term over the long term - if it were, Dallas Keuchel would be a Yankee, and sample size issues aside he would be one of the better pitchers in the team’s rotation too.

I don’t know what the solution to this Yankee habit of not spending on the big needs is. Max Scherzer probably would have dragged the Yankees to one more playoff appearance and one more division title on his own. Patrick Corbin would be a stabilizing influence on the whole rotation, and if the Yankees still needed pitching help, they could have turned their attention to cheaper depth options, rather than wonder if Deivi Garcia is worth giving up.

This should also be a wake-up call to people that think Gerrit Cole is destined for pinstripes. The Yankees are likely going to do what they’ve done for years now: make a hard offer, refuse to budge, and watch another great player go somewhere else. It’s become a cliche by now but there’s still oodles of truth in this from Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman:

The Yankees were rational and lost out on Patrick Corbin, and we’re all wondering how they’re going to fix a problem that could have been solved in January.