Washington Nationals must commit to more big offseason moves after landing Patrick Corbin

Max Scherzer
"Nationals starter Max Scherzer delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of NLDS Game 5." by apardavila https://flickr.com/photos/apardavila/30195625232 is licensed under CC BY

Patrick Corbin is going to sign for the Washington Nationals on a six-year contract worth more than Yu Darvish’s deal with the Cubs, according to reports from Ken Rosenthal.

Corbin is regarded as the best pitcher on the free agent market this offseason after a career year in 2018. The left-hander has been linked to half the teams in Major League Baseball, but the Nationals were seemingly outsiders. The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees looked set to battle it out for his signature.

The Nationals already have two All-Star calibre starters. Corbin was at that level in 2018, though injuries and fluctuating form means he does not have the same track record guarantee as Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg. This is a bold move for a team who do not currently have a line-up capable of making the playoffs.

Washington could still see Bryce Harper return. Daniel Murphy’s absence after being traded to Chicago leaves a hole in the line-up too. For all the excitement around Juan Soto, the Nationals need to do a lot more to be a real contender in 2019.

Washington’s general manager Mike Rizzo has added relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough this winter along with catchers Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. It’s a start, sure, but it’s nowhere near enough. They have a front three of a rotation potentially as good as any in the game – that alone is insufficient to win a title.

Maybe this move was motivated by the Mets’ fearsome front three. Maybe Rizzo just wanted to match them. There might almost be some logic to that, though it only makes sense if more big spending is going to come for position players.

It is understandable to go ultra-win-now while you have Scherzer, Soto on minimum, Trea Turner and Victor Robles on his way. This deal, as many free agent moves are, is about the next two years.

If the Nationals make big steps, either via free agency or trade, to help them in 2019 and 2020, then throwing all this money at Corbin can be justified. If they do not, it becomes very hard to understand building a half-billion-dollar rotation.

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Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He's still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play. Twitter: @SamRCox_