We all know Washington Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin has a terrible contract but, if anything, it just keeps getting worse. On Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Corbin had another disaster start. Things continue to spiral, with no end in sight.
Corbin failed to get out of the first inning on Wednesday, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and a walk. He threw 45 pitches and only recorded two outs before being pulled.
The 33-year-old took the loss and is now 4-14 on the season. His ERA (6.49) and WHIP (1.77) are both the worst among qualified pitchers. I's not a close race in either, as Corbin's ERA is almost a full run higher than Hunter Greene's (5.59) and in WHIP, Baltimore's Jordan Lyles is second-worst at 1.45. Corbin is currently the worst starting pitcher in Major League Baseball, and things have been trending in that direction for three years.
The problem for the Nationals is that they're paying Corbin $23.4 million this season and owe him $24.4 million next year. The kicker? His 2024 salary is $35.4 million. Yeah, it's that bad.
After an excellent season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Nationals signed Corbin to a backloaded six-year, $140 million deal in December of 2018. He immediately paid dividends in his first season, going 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 238 strikeouts in 202 innings. He helped lead the Nationals to their first World Series title and all appeared well. Then something changed.
In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Corbin went 2-7 with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 11 starts. That felt like an aberration at the time. After all, plenty of guys struggled during the weird 2020 campaign. Most expected some sort of bounce-back in 2021, but it wasn't coming. Corbin went 9-16 with a 5.82 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. His 2022 performance has just continued that trend.
Corbin's StatCast page looks like a crime scene:
So why does this matter? Because the Nationals need to offload Corbin's contract. They're up for sale and trying to maximize their assets. It's a big part of the reason they're so motivated to move superstar Juan Soto. An obvious move would be to attach Corbin's contract to Soto in any deal, but that would severely limit the return they'd get. As it stands, it appears their preference is to ship Soto alone.
If that is, indeed, the case, there's no moving Corbin's deal. The Nationals are either going to have to keep trotting him out there every fifth day over the next two seasons hoping he can be serviceable, or they're going to have to eat the contract. No one will take it off their hands. It's basically like John Wall's old contract. Radioactive.
Along with Corbin, the Nationals are stuck paying Stephen Strasburg $35 million a year for the next four seasons, and he's thrown 31.2 innings combined over the past three seasons. So yeah, this is all really bad.