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Detroit Tigers News: Nationals sign LHP Patrick Corbin to mega-deal, so maybe free agency isn’t dead?

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In which the Nationals might have jumpstarted the free agent market.

Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers may not be up to anything, but that doesn’t mean the rest of baseball is dormant. This time, it was the Washington Nationals making waves; they agreed to a six-year contract with free agent lefthander Patrick Corbin on Tuesday, according to reports from the usual big-name reporters on Baseball Twitter. Corbin’s deal is worth $140 million, but the yearly breakdown — including the inevitable amount of deferred money from surprisingly stingy Nats ownership — is still unknown.

Surprisingly, the biggest storylines to come out of this deal aren’t about Corbin’s fit with the Nationals, but rather how his contract impacts the rest of baseball. For one, it indicates that the free agent silly season might not be completely dead; Corbin is a good pitcher, but had a career 4.12 ERA and 3.96 FIP in nearly 750 innings prior to his stellar 2018 campaign. Washington’s investment in him is significant — he will earn more than $23 million per season on average, and they are giving up a couple of draft picks and international slot bonus money as well — and a big risk for an organization that is still trying to find its place in a much-improved National League East division.

Corbin’s deal also hints that Bryce Harper may have a new home in 2019. While we all assumed this would be the case after a lackluster 2018 season with little communication between the two sides, Corbin’s new contract puts the onus on Nats ownership to either commit to paying him the money he wants, or move on from the best player in franchise* history.

With or without Harper, the Nats are still loaded for 2019. They have a monstrous rotation, with Corbin joining Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to form the best front three in baseball. Our friends at Beyond the Box Score think Corbin will be worth the money, and even a slight drop-off will represent a big upgrade for a club that needed 30 starts out of Jeremy Hellickson and Erick Fedde last season. They also have a capable outfield, with Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor, and Victor Robles all under team control through 2021 (or longer).

*The Nats are all too eager to ignore their days in Montreal, so it’s only fitting that we do too in order to make that sentence sound better.

Hey, the Tigers did a thing too

That thing was signing catcher Bobby Wilson to a minor league deal. Wilson has already been assigned to Triple-A Toledo, and will serve in a similar role that Jarrod Saltalamacchia did last season. The difference? Wilson will be around to mentor top catching prospect Jake Rogers, an excellent defender who will likely benefit from Wilson’s tutelage on the finer points of the game.

It’s not the big splash (or even a major league deal) that we were hoping for, but I can’t knock Al Avila for filling a hole with a veteran backstop who has carved out a decade-long career thanks to his solid defensive work.

The Tigers also re-upped with reliever Louis Coleman, which we probably discussed (and subsequently forgot) earlier this week.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before...

...but a Tigers player has an injury more serious that we initially believed. Michael Fulmer’s knee surgery was a bit more complicated than we (and the Tigers) anticipated.

“It wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill meniscus surgery,” Fulmer said on Monday from his home outside Oklahoma City. “They X-rayed the lateral side of my knee and it had grounded down pretty much, and the cartilage had rubbed right through.”

So, on top of the meniscectomy, Andrews also had to perform a modified micro-fracture technique on the bone, chondroplasty, to promote better blood flow in the area. “I don’t want people thinking I had micro-fracture surgery, because it wasn’t that bad,” Fulmer said.

Umm, that’s microfracture surgery, modified or not. Luckily, Fulmer still has nearly three months to recover — and almost five total since his Sept. 20 surgery — until the start of spring training. One hopes that the Tigers will take it slow with him, especially since they have no interest in competing in 2019, but that hasn’t always been the case in the past. And with this representing Fulmer’s second surgery on that same knee, I don’t blame you if you’re a bit concerned.

Let’s go shopping!

MLive’s Evan Woodberry detailed five free agents who would be a good fit for the 2019 Tigers. As you might imagine, all five players can likely be had on cheap, one-year deals. And if they look familiar, they are; we have individually profiled four of the five (and the fifth is really boring).

Around the horn

Anthony Fenech is a bit optimistic about James McCann, but otherwise correct in diagnosing why the Tigers non-tendered him and Alex Wilson. The Astros signed Robinson Chirinos, which means Martin Maldonado needs a new home. Grant Brisbee on the Mariners. Jeff Sullivan on the Mariners, but also the Phillies. DRC+ believes Miguel Cabrera was a deserving MVP.

Random offseason send-off video