- The Washington Times - Friday, December 7, 2018

How can Washington compete for coveted pro athletes with other Northeast megalopolises like New York and Philadelphia? Mike Rizzo might have found a trick.

When the Nationals general manager and members of the Lerner family hosted then-free agent Patrick Corbin last week and took him to dinner, Rizzo said he was “wanded” by security entering the restaurant they chose. It turned out that Vice President Mike Pence was inside, for reasons other than to woo the starting pitcher to the Nationals.

“Full frisk walking into the restaurant,” Rizzo said. “Maybe that impressed him.”

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Whatever the case, Washington succeeded and made the six-year signing official Friday by introducing Corbin at a press conference at Nationals Park.

“I want to thank Mike Rizzo for the opportunity, the Lerner family,” Corbin said. “I was able to have dinner with (them) a week or so ago and just really understood this organization a lot better and how important winning is. For me that’s always been a big thing, to have the opportunity to compete deep in the postseason.”

Corbin, 29, also visited the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. He was viewed as the most prized free agent starter on the market this year.

In 33 starts for Arizona last season, Corbin went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 246 strikeouts. He had the second-lowest home runs per nine innings rate in the NL (0.68).

As a left-handed pitcher, he will provide a sorely needed complement to righties Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top of the rotation.

Corbin said the pitching staff was one of the biggest reasons he wanted to come to Washington. Scherzer and Strasburg were in attendance at Corbin’s introduction, along with Ryan Zimmerman and newly-acquired catcher Yan Gomes.

“That resonates to me personally and it shows the type of cohesiveness and the tight-knit group that we’ve become,” Rizzo said.

For a deal of the nature that Corbin received, “it’s more about the person than it is the player,” the general manager said.

“All our due diligence led us to the crossroads of, this is a guy that we want to get to know better, because this is a guy that fits everything we’re trying to do,” Rizzo said.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports previously reported Corbin’s deal is worth $140 million. Rizzo later told reporters that having so much money tied up in the Nationals’ top three pitchers did not preclude them from striking a deal with Bryce Harper, the offseason’s undisputed biggest question mark.

“They’re independent of each other,” Rizzo said. “We’ve gone about the business of creating this roster for 2019, and at the end of the day we’ll figure out if that includes Harp or not.”

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