Washington Nationals Win the Patrick Corbin Sweepstakes

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 17: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field on September 17, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 17: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field on September 17, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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On Tuesday, the Washington Nationals announced the signing of Patrick Corbin. How does this affect the direction of their offseason?

On Tuesday, the Washington Nationals made headlines as they continued their busy off-season. The club announced the signing of Patrick Corbin, the market’s best free agent starting pitcher. Corbin has agreed to a 6-year, $140 million deal with the Nats. The lefty is set to join forces with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, forming an elite trio atop of the Nats’ rotation.

The 29-year-old’s decision marks the first major free agent signing of the young offseason. Going into the week, the New York Yankees were considered the favorite to land the expensive arm. Corbin has ties to New York and there was a clear fit within the Yankees’ roster. The Philadelphia Phillies were also involved, but neither team was willing to offer Corbin more than a five-year pact (Via Jon Heyman).

$140 million was a high price to pay, but this move shows that the Washinton Nationals are committed to regaining their crown atop the National League East, with or without Bryce Harper.

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Patrick Corbin had an extraordinary 2018 season. The lefty threw 200 innings, posting an ERA of 3.15 while recording 246 strikeouts. This resulted in a bWAR of 4.8, an ERA+ of 137, and a FIP of 2.47. The former D-Backs’ starter proved that he has ace-type abilities and he is now being paid like a frontline starter.

As a result of the signing, the Washington Nationals are set to lose a second and fifth-round selection during this summer’s Amateur Draft (via MLBTR). The signing will also bring the Nationals close to the luxury tax threshold, as their payroll is now around $190 million.

Does this signing officially signal that Bryce Harper will not be returning to the Washington Nationals? I do not think so, as the club seems comfortable with their lofty payroll, but as of now, I would say that a return is unlikely. Anthony Rendon is approaching free agency and the Nationals will not be able to afford Rendon, Harper, and Corbin.

We should begin to know more about Bryce Harper’s future as the Winter Meetings approach, but as of now, it is clear that the Nationals will not wait on Harper’s decision. They have been aggressively improving their roster and I believe that they are not finished.

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The National League East is beginning to look like a new division. The Braves, Mets, Nationals, and Phillies have all been active and there will be many more moves made. 2019 should be a very fun and competitive season.