While most of the hot stove talk for the Philadelphia Phillies has been centered around Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, many analysts expect the Philadelphia Phillies to be active in pursuing other areas of need in free agency, such as starting pitcher.
MLB.com‘s Jon Paul Morosi only added to that belief by saying how Philadelphia is in the mix for Patrick Corbin, arguably the best starting pitcher on the market:
Left-hander Patrick Corbin is viewed as the top available starter by most in the industry, and he’s drawing interest from the Yankees, Phillies and Nationals, among others.
Corbin, 29, is coming off a spectacular season for the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and a bWAR of 4.8. Corbin finished fifth in the National League Cy Young Award voting. The two-time All-Star broke out back in 2013, when he won 14 games and had a 3.41 ERA. The next four years would be a mix of injuries and inconsistencies, as Corbin missed the 2014 season entirely and had a combined 4.35 ERA from 2015 to 2017.
It’s no secret that pitching is a need for Philadelphia. Even though there were no major injuries for any of starting pitcher, the Phillies starting rotation still struggled heavily down the stretch in 2018, as four out of the five starters had ERAs above five after the All-Star break, with Aaron Nola being the only one who had any real success.
The Phillies also aren’t afraid to sign big name pitchers, as Jake Arrieta was inked to a three-year/$75 million dollar deal last spring.
Whether or not the Phillies pursue Corbin heavily could depend on what happens with Machado and Harper. Bovada (via Oddshark) released the odds each team had of signing Harper and Machado. The Phillies were favorites for each, having +150 on Machado and even odds on Harper. Being that Corbin is seen as the best pitcher available, that would mean a sizable contract is coming his way. Of course, with their being speculation from some analysts such as Fancred‘s Jon Heyman that the Phillies could sign both Machado and Harper, one could assume Philadelphia could easily sign Harper and Corbin or Machado and Corbin.
Even if the Phillies don’t sign Corbin, acquiring an experienced starting pitcher appears to be a priority:
The Phillies would like to add a veteran starter to a mostly young, right-handed rotation that struggled down the stretch in 2018.
There a number of starters on the market that would seem to fit that bill. J.A. Happ would seem to stick out the most, as the Phillies know Happ well from his time here back in 2009-2010. Happ, 36, went 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 2018. NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Jim Salisbury reported back in July that the Phillies were weighing whether or not to make a trade for Happ, but nothing ever came of it and Happ was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Yankees. Most importantly, Happ throws left, which would bring a much-needed balance into a right-handed heavy rotation.
Charlie Morton could be another option. The Phillies traded for Morton back in December of 2015, but Morton only made four starts for Philadelphia in 2016 before tearing his hamstring. The 35-year-old Morton then went to Houston, where he went a combined 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA from 2017-2018. Morton’s 2018 was particularly impressive, as he went 15-3 and earned his first All-Star bid. Morton doesn’t, however, check off the box of throwing left-handed.
There are numerous other options available to the Phillies as well, such as Dallas Keuchel, although Keuchel would presumably cost more than Happ or Morton. Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA this past season. The two-time All-Star also throws left, which could be an important factor if the Phillies decide to take a hard look at him.
Other veteran options on the market include Gio Gonzalez, Nathan Eovaldi, Trevor Cahill and Anibal Sanchez. Whether or not the Phillies will show interest in any of the veteran names listed besides Corbin remains to be seen, but general manager Matt Klentak and the front-office seem intent on upgrading positions that will help the club continue to take major steps forward in their hunt for the postseason.
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