This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.
Much of the conversation around the White Sox and free agency has focused on the two biggest fish in this winter's pond: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But as good as those guys are at baseball, there's one thing they definitively cannot do: pitch.
Maybe it's because the White Sox have the potential to field a homegrown rotation of the future just one year from now, but making a big-splash pitching addition hasn't seemed to be as exciting a talking point as the possibility of adding Harper or Machado. And that's weird because the White Sox have said they're going to go out and get a pitcher, multiple pitchers most likely.
Certainly there are vocal fans out there who want the White Sox to bring this winter's best available starting pitcher to the South Side. Patrick Corbin is just 29 years old and coming off a remarkable season in which he posted a 3.15 ERA and struck out 246 batters in 200 innings. That was good enough to place him in the top five in this year's NL Cy Young vote.
Prior to this campaign, the numbers weren't nearly as good. In his first five major league seasons, he posted a combined 4.12 ERA and averaged 130 strikeouts a year. But the contract year rarely disappoints, and Corbin took full advantage, hitting the free-agent market on one heck of an upswing. He's going to be a very popular man as the winter wears on because everyone's always in the market for premium starting pitching. Given that he's two years younger than fellow free agent and 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Corbin is as premium as it gets on this year's free-agent market.
Of course, the White Sox have starting pitching as a stated need, with two holes in their rotation thanks to Michael Kopech's recovery from Tommy John surgery and James Shields' departure. And because of the flexibility this rebuilding process has created, they have multiple ways they could go about filling those holes. They could add a couple one-year fill-ins and simply wait for Kopech to get healthy and for pitching prospect Dylan Cease to reach the majors. Add those two guys to the trio of Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and you've got a homegrown starting staff heading into 2020. Or, they could provide a safety net in the form of a longer-term deal for a bigger-name. That guy would help anchor the rotation as the team plans to transition from rebuilding to contending on an annual basis.
Corbin would fall into the latter category, though he'll likely be in such high demand across the league that the same challenges facing the White Sox in a pursuit of Harper or Machado would apply. They'd have to outbid some of baseball's biggest spenders — including the New York Yankees, who have been mentioned as a likely landing spot for Corbin — and convince a young star to pick planned future success over the ability to join up with a roster capable of winning multiple championships right now.
Corbin is a great pitcher who would line up nicely with the White Sox long-term plans. But like Harper and Machado, there's a big difference between wanting to add an All-Star player and convincing them to sign.
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