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Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo on interest in Patrick Corbin, adding depth to rotation...

Whether it’s Patrick Corbin or another starter, the Washington Nationals need to add depth to their rotation in 2019.

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple reports last week had free agent lefty Patrick Corbin visiting the nation’s capital on his tour of interested East Coast teams, and on Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C., GM Mike Rizzo confirmed that the Nationals did host the 29-year-old starter.

Corbin finished the 2018 campaign (11-7) in 33 starts, putting up a 3.15 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 48 walks (2.76 BB/9), 246 Ks (11.07 K/9), and a .217/.270/.337 line against in 200 innings in a career-best 6.2 fWAR campaign for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the, “Nationals almost certainly are at six years or will get to that level with Corbin,” and he reported that, “General manager Mike Rizzo is ‘seriously focused’ on the pitcher.”

Corbin is projected to get something in the neighborhood of 6-year/$129M deal.

“He’s one of the elite starting pitchers that are on the free agent market,” Rizzo said when he spoke to reporters at Nationals’ Winterfest.

“We have interest in him,” the GM added. “We had a nice discussion with him, I had a personal discussion with him.

“He wanted to come down and see what we had down here, and visit the city and the clubhouse, and I thought that was a positive reaction by him.

“I’m not going to read too much into it, but he’s a guy obviously that we’re interested in and that would fit nicely on this team.”

“Our best month we were 20-9,” manager Davey Martinez said when asked about the need to bolster the Nationals’ rotation this winter.

“If you look at that month, our starting pitchers were unbelievable, I mean they were going 6 23 innings, seven innings, eight innings, and we played really well, and we need that. I’ve said that before: starting pitching and defense wins a lot of games. I mean there’s going to be days where you don’t hit, you score two or three runs, if our starting pitching is pitching the way it’s capable of pitching, we’ll win those games. It’s very important. And we’re out there looking, and I’m sure Mike, he’ll get something done. Right now we’ve got three or four good starting pitchers. Yeah, we could add one more, maybe two, who knows, but I know Mike is working diligently to get another guy.”

Rizzo was asked if he got the sense that Corbin is going to sign quickly this winter if the right deal is out there.

“I think that he’s not afraid to do something early,” Rizzo said.

“If he gets a deal that he feels comfortable with I think he will act. There’s been no timetable given by his representatives or by him, but we had a nice dinner and he spent the next day here, and it was a really good meeting with his agent, myself, his wife and Mark Lerner were all there.”

The Nationals’ need for pitching help increased and the starting depth is a little thinner after Friday night’s trade with the Indians for catcher Yan Gomes, which sent hard-throwing right-hander Jefry Rodriguez to Cleveland along with minor league outfielder Daniel Johnson and a Player to be Named Later.

“It’s one starting candidate that we don’t have any more,” Rizzo said.

“We thought Jefry’s primary role on our team in the future was going to be that long man in the bullpen, but we felt — you’ve got to give to get, and to get an All-Star catcher with a couple of years of control at the age he is — that it was a reasonable request and I thought it was a good baseball deal for both teams.”

Both the manager and GM were asked where they saw Joe Ross, who returned from Tommy John surgery late last season, fitting into the mix in 2019.

“He’s going to come to Spring Training with a chance to be a starting pitcher for us,” Rizzo said, “and hopefully he fully recovers from the Tommy John and we expect him to, and we liked what we saw in stretches last year, and just continue his improvement with his health and his stamina and that type of thing, and this guy was a pretty dynamic starter when we first got him and hopefully he gets back to pre-Tommy John status as a pitcher and we’ll be happy with that.”

“He’s got to come back to Spring Training and work his way back,” Martinez added.

“I like what I saw, I did, but he’s got to build stamina. What he showed me is that three or four innings, that third time around, his velo went down significantly, so we’ve got to get him consistent, and get him through that third time around the order.”

Even if Ross is healthy and able to contribute to the starting rotation, Rizzo’s already said he will be on an innings limit in his first year back, so the Nationals need to bolster the pitching corps behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Tanner Roark.

“Starting pitching is king,” Rizzo explained.

“Our philosophy is pitching, defense, athleticism, and that’s how we’ve won. And we feel good about — when we put a guy on the mound each day that gives you a chance to win, and I think that you’ve created yourself a really good chance to have a good ballclub and play deep into October. And I think that’s our philosophy. There’s different ways to do this, we’ve seen the bullpening and that type of thing in playoff baseball, but for the marathon that is the season, you’d better have some starters that you can run out there and gives you a chance to win each and every day, and that’s what we’ve always tried to do here.”