Mike Rizzo did not often do this introductory press conference, at least not for the players. He did it when the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer in January 2015, and then again when they signed with Daniel Murphy around Christmas of the same year. Subsequent acquisitions have not reached such a level that it has been necessary to dress publicly in a delicate manner for an adult man in his new baseball jersey. But Patrick Corbin, to whom the Nationals have spent $ 140 million over six seasons this week, is a big problem.
In the months following one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the National, Rizzo, backed by seemingly vigorous support from the owners, has already met most of his team's needs. He acquired two catchers. He acquired two relievers. These movements marked a resurgence commitment. But this one, ahead of the Phillies and Yankees of the most coveted starter of the free agent market – paying more and committing more years than some hoped Corbin – expressed the aspirations of the World Series.
Rizzo said he and his team had walked the market of launch options from the front line. But as he said Friday, "free agents cost you only money. Trade candidates cost you prospects and money. Pivoting for the free agents, Rizzo then turned to Corbin.
"[He’s] 29-year-old needle moved north, athlete, "said Rizzo. "Check a lot of boxes we were looking for in this class of free agents."
When Corbin made a stopover in the city center during his trip to the east coast, which also included visits to the Yankees and Phillies, Rizzo and Mark Lerner took him out with his agent John Courtright and his wife. Jen. They were ringed by the security at the gates of Fiola Mare. Vice President Mike Pence also ate there. But in the middle of the foil, both sides found something authentic.
"We learned a lot about their interests, Jen and Patrick, and how we interact with people," said Rizzo. "I think that bring this type of personality, this type of attitude is going to be important. Not just between the lines, but at the clubhouse, in the community and that kind of thing.
Corbin, who looked at his wife behind the microphone while he was thanking her for helping him bring him here, mentioned it when asked what was remarkable about about Washington.
"I think it's the best solution for me, Jen and my family," said Corbin. "Being able to come here and compete for a championship and be part of something special."
For years, the Lerners had shots while the Nationals finished second for independent players like Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and others. In Corbin, Rizzo and the Lerners outbid the Phillies and Yankees, who did not spend their money, and left nothing to chance.
"I do not look at it the way we do it for anyone," Rizzo said. "… We aggressively attacked Patrick Corbin. We paid the current fare for an elite starter. We are happy that he is starting for us. "
For Rizzo, starting pitchers will always be kings. And by committing more to Corbin than any other team was willing to hire, he and the Nationals have taken one of their biggest throwing risks to date. Corbin, who has undergone surgery at Tommy John, relies heavily on his slider, the kind of pitch that some say breaks an elbow faster than any other. And yet, the Nationals went all the way – no unsubscription, no safety net – on the left.
"I watched him at Junior College in Chipola and he had good things at the time," Rizzo said. "… An important part of this process is her excellent athlete. … I think athletic pitchers have a better chance of staying healthy. "
On Friday, the audience sat around Max Scherzer, Cy Young's 34-year-old winner, who had signed a seven-year, $ 210-million, four-year deal. Stephen Strasburg, who had signed a seven-year extension for $ 175 million two years, was sitting a few places. Ryan Zimmerman and the newly acquired receiver, Yan Gomes, were also present to welcome Corbin.
Corbin, clean-cut with a childlike air around him, will now be the third starter in a rotation that seems busy when she is in good health. On Friday, the Nationals announced the arrival of the next generation of rotation anchors. He is a younger, less experienced ace who could stammer and who will almost certainly train the national with him anyway.
Corbin "was one of the best pitchers in the National League in 2018," closed Rizzo. "We think the best is coming."