A baseline for what Corbin is expected to cost his current suitors is most likely the six-year, $126 million contract the Chicago Cubs gave to Yu Darvish last year.
The last two years, the Yankees have paid a dear price for their timidity in pursuing top-shelf starting pitching, passing on Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who wound up in Houston, and not being able to pry Corbin away from the Diamondbacks last winter. It is starting pitching that has failed the Yankees in the playoffs, first against the Astros in 2017 and then against the Red Sox this season.
This winter, though, the Yankees’ other needs — a middle infielder to fill in for Didi Gregorius while he recovers from elbow surgery, refurbishing the bullpen and trading pitcher Sonny Gray (11 teams are interested, Cashman said) — have percolated in the background as they have pursued starting pitching.
They quickly re-signed C. C. Sabathia (as well as left fielder Brett Gardner) and swung the first big trade of the winter to acquire the left-hander James Paxton from Seattle for a package of minor leaguers that included a top prospect, Justus Sheffield. Paxton and Sabathia will accompany Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation.
Now the question is whether Corbin will join them.
Cashman said Thursday’s tour and dinner had been not so much a recruiting trip as an educational one. Corbin has pitched only once at Yankee Stadium — seven innings of two-hit ball in 2013. He was introduced to Manager Aaron Boone and the training and analytics staff, but also to how the Yankees operate with security, family services and dealing with a large news media following.
The visit gave the Yankees a chance to get to know Corbin better — their bullpen coach, Mike Harkey, was Corbin’s pitching coach in Arizona, and he played briefly with Gregorius there — but also offered Corbin a chance to understand better what playing for the Yankees entails.
“It’s happened twice,” Cashman said, explaining the value of these meetings, “where we’ve been in front of a player that we had an interest in and I walked out going: ‘We are crossing that one off the board. That’s not a fit for us in any way, shape or form.’”