In an MLB Network Radio interview last month, Patrick Corbin, who signed a 6-year/$140M deal with the Washington Nationals in December, was asked if joining a team where he did not necessarily have to be the No. 1 guy made a difference to him when he made his final decision.
“Not really,” Corbin said.
“I think any time I take the mound I want to do my best and go out there and compete no matter what I was making. I think it’s great to be a part of a great rotation. At the stage of my career now, I want to be on the best team I can be on, and I want to have guys that are going out there and are going to give us the best chance to win and I think that’s what we have in D.C.”
“I think for me,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said when asked a variation of the same question in his first interview of the Spring this week, “... and in talking to Pat and getting to know him a little bit, he’s a guy that doesn’t really think about it that way, he really doesn’t. He just wants to come in and help us win games, and he’s already fit in, he’s already talked to guys, he’s already talked to Max [Scherzer] and [Stephen Strasburg], and he’s been good friends with [Jeremy] Hellickson, they played together, so he feels very comfortable, and I told him, hey, nothing changes, you’re going to go out there every five days and you’re going to compete just like you always have so that’s all we ask you to do, and he’s all in.”
Martinez talked about his first impressions of the 29-year-old left-hander, who is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he put up a 3.15 ERA, a 2.47 FIP, 48 walks (2.16 BB/9), 246 Ks (11.07 K/9), and a .217/.270/.337 line against in 200 innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“One, I know he’s a good athlete. Two, he’s very intense,” Martinez said.
“I watched him throw his bullpen today, and he gets after it, but I love what I see so far, and by talking to him, he’s matured a lot, just by talking to him and his game plan, and he’s bought in from Day 1, and this is the place that he wanted to be, it’s a testament to this organization and he could have went elsewhere and he chose us and I’m glad he did.”
Corbin’s honeymoon was interrupted when the deal with the Nationals was signed in early December, and he had to cancel a planned trip and travel to D.C. to sign his contract. He’s planning to take a second honeymoon when the 2019 campaign is over, but he wanted to get started on his offseason workout program without interruption, and get down to West Palm Beach early so he could get used to his new Spring home.
Corbin said he’s already done some early work with new Nationals’ catcher Yan Gomes as they try to get comfortable working together, and he’ll do the same with Kurt Suzuki, the other backstop added to Washington’s roster this winter as they overhauled their catching corps.
“I threw with Gomes, a bullpen, the other day, so it’s great,” Corbin said. “It’s going to be huge just to be able to get on the same page as them. Just different catchers. The catchers that we do have here have been around for a long time, so I think it will be fairly easy for them to pick up what we’re trying to do, and just come up with a game plan throughout the season.”
Signing a big deal like he did has often led to some struggles as players try to justify the big numbers they received, but Corbin said he didn’t think that would be an issue, and getting a deal done when he did, in what’s turned out to be a slow free agent market, and signing on long-term, actually gives him some comfort.
“I’ve always just tried to have a routine,” Corbin explained, “... to be able to go out there and compete every fifth day, that’s really all I’m focusing on. It’s good that that’s over with, and I’ll be here for six years, so I just need to come in every day, try to get better and help this team win ballgames.”
When considering his options this winter, Corbin saw in the Nationals a team that’s going to be competing for a postseason berth in 2019, after failing to make it to the postseason, with a lot of talent and a number of new faces brought in as part of a partial rebuild of the major league roster that was fairly aggressive.
“That was one thing that I was excited about coming to this team,” Corbin said. “There’s not really a weakness, so to be a part of something like that, just I think I can help this team out and just really excited to get things rolling.”