Minnesota Twins Free Agent Profile: SP Patrick Corbin
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins have plenty of money to spend on free agents this offseason. Should they pursue the top arm on the market in Patrick Corbin?
The Minnesota Twins have a tall task ahead of them this offseason. 2017 marked everything that was supposed to be good and exciting for the franchise as it seemed the team’s young talent was peaking. Even if it was just a little earlier than expected. Then 2018 came around, and everything that was good seemed to have spoiled and left us all asking questions of where the franchise is headed.
Now with payroll flexibility, the Twins front office can look at trying to lure the top talent of the free agent market if they so choose. The Twins have a lot of young and talented pitchers but could still use an impact arm to go alongside Jose Berrios. Patrick Corbin is arguably the top free agent starter available and would certainly fit the label of impact arm. Just what would it look like to pursue Corbin this offseason?
Last season Corbin was a pitcher that many Twins fans and bloggers suggested the Twins should make an attempt to acquire via trade. That longing for Corbin was even before his incredible 2018 season. In 2017, Corbin tossed 189.2 innings in 32 starts held a 4.03 ERA, a 3.89 xFIP, and an 8.45 K/9. All good numbers but not even a taste of what was to come.
When 2018 hit Corbin found another gear on the mound. Corbin tossed 200 innings in 33 starts, held a 3.15 ERA and 2.61 xFIP, and a much improved 11.07 K/9. That performance gained Corbin enough attention that he finished 5th in National League Cy-Young Award voting and now makes him a coveted name by many going into this offseason.
One of the big marks of doom for pitchers is already out of the way for Corbin as he has already had Tommy John, but at the same time that brings a bit of caution to teams in pursuit of Corbin. Due to that surgery there just are not very many major league innings to evaluate the left-hander on. The other question teams will ask themselves is do they want to be the team that pays potentially for just one really good pop up season.
One question surrounding Corbin’s performance that catches the eye is what exactly helped him move from a 21.6% K rate in 2017 to a 30.8% K rate in 2018? There is nothing really telling in the ways of velocity that can seem to explain the jump as he still boasts the same fairly modest 90-92 mph fastball, but he definitely was able to rely on his slider to get batters out.
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Corbin’s slider did see an increase in whiff rate considerably in 2018 as was laid out nicely midseason by Sean Testerman. In general, he relied on his slider more in 2018 than the past. As exciting as it is to see Corbin’s slider become one of the best out pitches in baseball, it also will cause some teams to pause with his history with Tommy John surgery.
Even with his question marks, Corbin is the type of player that the Twins will want to consider trying to sign to move the 2019 Twins back towards competitive baseball. Everything about Corbin would upgrade the Twins rotation, even the 2017 version would do that. The big question will be how big of a contract will the front office be comfortable handing Corbin.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts a 6 year and $129 million contract for Corbin. That $21.5 million AAV is certainly a price tag the Twins will be able to absorb with so much payroll money cleared after the 2018 season. Of course, the Twins will not be the only team going after Corbin so it will be interesting to see just who adds the lefty to their rotation as all the big free agent spenders will likely be linked back to him.
Where do you stand on Corbin? Should the Twins go hard to sign the left-handed starter or are they better off trying to spend their money elsewhere? Let us know!