The last time the Yankees competed with the Phillies for a top-flight starting pitcher, Cliff Lee went to Philadelphia for an inferior financial package in December 2010.
The last time the Nationals pursued a top-flight starting pitcher, the Yankees sat on the sidelines, working to lower their payroll, as Max Scherzer took his considerable talents to Washington in January 2015.
Soon, it seems, the Yankees will find out if they can finally win one of these Acela arms battles.
The industrywide expectation is that left-hander Patrick Corbin, after touring the locales of his apparent top three suitors last week, will make his decision shortly as Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported. Since he’ll set the market, and since his market seems robust enough, with offers of at least five years and perhaps six believed to be at his disposal, little incentive exists for the 29-year-old to drag out this process into next week’s winter meetings.
The Yankees, due to their stated need for starting pitching and Corbin’s childhood ties to them — he grew up in upstate New York, and most if not all of his family roots for the Yankees — have widely been viewed as the favorites to land Corbin. One competing agent said (on the condition of anonymity) that he’d be “shocked” if Corbin didn’t wind up in The Bronx.
However, the Nationals are being “aggressive,” in the words of one National League team official, in their attempts to land Corbin and Washington intends to add two starting pitchers this offseason, as per an industry source. While the Nationals have far outspent their National League East rivals in recent seasons, many of their most lucrative packages, like the $210 million they committed to Scherzer, have featured significantly deferred payments, which could factor into this spirited competition.
The Phillies, meanwhile, launched their long-anticipated offensive by agreeing to a massive trade with the Mariners on Monday. Philadelphia will receive shortstop Jean Segura and relievers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos from Seattle, and the Mariners will get young shortstop J.P. Crawford and veteran first baseman Carlos Santana as they continue their massive teardown. With eyes on both of the winter’s top free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Phillies can try to sell Corbin on joining an organization on the rise.
As The Post’s Joel Sherman reported last week, the Yankees would love to wrap up their starting pitching upgrades, having already acquired southpaw James Paxton from the Mariners, before their front-office contingent heads to Las Vegas for the meetings, which begin informally on Sunday. They’d like to know how much money they have to spend on a pair of relievers as well as an infielder to provide coverage for Didi Gregorius’ absence. Amidst all of this, the Yankees are working to trade disappointing starting pitcher Sonny Gray for a return that either would fill one of the aforementioned holes or help restock a farm system that has been hit hard the past couple of years by graduations and trades.
In the periphery for the Yankees looms Machado, clearly not their first priority yet also a person of interest for them, especially with Gregorius set to miss the start of the 2019 season as he rehabilitates from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has publicly expressed an interest in convening with Machado and discussing the shortstop-third baseman’s notorious October comments about not hustling.
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