O'Dowd: Adding Corbin gives Nats the NL's 'best pitching staff'

The Nats made perhaps the biggest splash of the offseason thus far Tuesday, signing All-Star pitcher Patrick Corbin to a reported six-year, $140 million deal. 

Adding Corbin to the already great duo of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top of Washington's rotation gives them one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, MLB Network analyst Dan O'Dowd told The Junkies Wednesday.

"I think they jumped ahead of the Dodgers for the best pitching staff in the National League, and they're probably not even done yet," O'Dowd said. "I think he's the best starting pitcher available, period, in the market."

"It's a unique signing, for me, because very rarely do you find a guy that's got an 11-strikeout per nine (innings) rate, plus an almost 49-percent groundball rate, in the game. That means his slider is a wipeout, strikeout pitch, but he also has a fastball that has tremendous life on top of the plate to get you groundballs."

Corbin's big payday does raise concerns, however, the Nats might not have the financial resources to also sign Bryce Harper. In fact, O'Dowd thinks Washington's biggest competition for the slugger's signature is within the division.

"They beat the Phillies out for this pitcher, but then it really continues to put the Phillies in a position where they really have to be all-in on Bryce Harper," he said. "I do think they snagged a tremendous starting pitcher, but conversely, I think they keep pushing the Phillies into a position where Harper looks more and more likely to — the logical landing spot is there."

"They've moved (first baseman Carlos) Santana (to the Mariners), so they move (Rhys) Hoskins back to first. They have a definitive need in the outfield. They acquired (Jean) Segura, who can play shortstop for them, even though Machado can play third. It just looks more and more likely they're lining up to take (Harper)."

O'Dowd, like all of us, doesn't know the Nats' exact financial situation, so he didn't rule out a Harper return to Washington. But even if Harper does go elsewhere, O'Dowd says he loves the young talent the Nats already possess, including outfielders Juan Soto and Victor Robles and infielder Carter Kieboom.

"The problematic part of Bryce going back, for me, to the Nats is I love their club as it's constituted," he told The Junkies. "Obviously Soto's gonna play day-in and day-out. You got a glimpse of Robles at the end of the year, we're talking about a young Andrew McCutchen. He needs to play every day, not just on a platoon basis."

"You can't say a club is gonna be better without Bryce Harper, that would be very unintelligent for me to say that. But in the amount of money it's gonna take to hold onto him, I like the distribution of their revenue spread out amongst their entire team the way that it is."

"And they've got another kid coming. If you guys haven't seen Carter Kieboom yet, I saw him in the Arizona Fall League ... this guy's a stud. This guy is the legit guy. Whatever they do at second base, they don't wanna do long-term, because this kid's coming like a freight train, and they need an opportunity to put him in the lineup day-in and day-out."

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