Hal Steinbrenner & Brian Cashman - Blending Perfectly Photo Credit: The Captain's Blog

Yankees: On Why “Losing” Patrick Corbin Is A Good Development

The Yankees and their fans stood by yesterday as “our guy” signed with the Nationals. The big picture, though, says kudos to Brian Cashman for holding firm.

Yankees fans, by nature, always want more, more, more. James Paxton isn’t enough, we need Patrick Corbin by God or Corey Kluber in a trade, or as I argued yesterday, the Mad Bum, Madison Bumgarner, the man who almost single-handedly beat the Royals in the 2014 World Series. But it’s not a question of gluttony; it’s asking if a hyped up Corbin is worth the investment, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Consider this. The Washington Nationals just handed $140 million to a pitcher with a lifetime record only two games above .500 (56-54). The same pitcher missed all of 2014 and most of 2015 rehabbing from arm surgery, and as a bonus, the Nationals gave in to the pitcher’s demand for that extra (sixth) year in his new contract.

The New York Yankees said no to Patrick Corbin’s demands, and as it finally turned out, Corbin had no unique allurement or sentiment to play for the Yankees or to be closer to home. Corbin went for the money that secures his family for a lifetime and beyond, plain and simple.

Good for him, and also good for the Yankees. I, or perhaps yourself, might have done the same thing. After all, that sixth year will be worth $15 million after taxes, when Corbin will be making his final starts at the age of 35 going on 36.

As a fan of the Yankees, this is the organization I want them to be. Yes, I was one of those (too) who marveled at the way George Steinbrenner freely threw his money around to bring World Championships to the city of New York. But I also look at his son, Hal Steinbrenner, who continues to insist the Yankees should be able to win with what they have – a more prudent approach for sure.

In theory, the Yankees can easily afford the dollars to sign Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Patrick Corbin as an afterthought – if they wanted to. After all, the New York Yankees are the most valuable franchise in baseball at an estimated value of $4 billion, according to Forbes. Luxury tax be damned, they could afford that as well.

But look around. The Tampa Bay Rays won 90 games last year with a payroll of $69 million, the Oakland A’s won 97 games with a payroll of $80 million, and the Milwaukee Brewers came within a hair of making it to the World Series with a payroll $30 million under the league average. (Source: Spotrac)

James Paxton, New York Yankees Photo Credit: Runner Sports
James Paxton, New York Yankees Photo Credit: Runner Sports

The trade for James Paxton, who is a number one or number two starter in anyone’s rotation, according to Brian Cashman, completed the “heavy lifting” the Yankees needed to accomplish this offseason.  Few disagreed with him. Put in that context, Corbin’s $140 million becomes what – lifting in the Flyweight  Division?

I keep coming back to the word prudent to describe what Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are trying to achieve. Putting Corbin’s contract into perspective, for instance, means if he manages to somehow win 20 games for the Nationals, each victory comes at the cost of almost $1,500,000. If, as it’s more likely, he chalks up only fifteen wins, the Nationals get to write him a check for only about $1,750,000.

Following arbitration with an expected raise, a pitcher like Paxton, likewise, can achieve the same thing but cost the Yankees only a half-million dollars for every win. Smart, very smart.

I like smart. I like it a lot. Smart is exploring the trade market fully before plunging into the depths of the unknown and (as we’ve seen with Corbin) overly expensive free agent sweepstakes.

I’ve said it once, I said it twice. Don’t worry Yankees fans; Brian Cashman’s got this.

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball

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