If the news of the Ownership change earlier this week was the ice cream sundae, than news tonight that the Baltimore Orioles had acquired former Corbin Burnes is the cherry on top of that dessert.
Obtaining the former Cy Young winner for Joey Ortiz, DL Hall, and the 34th pick in the 2024 draft; is an outstanding utilization of existing resources.
The O’s gave up some talent and control with Ortiz and Hall; but Ortiz’s path might have been completely blocked shortly, and Hall currently seems destined to be a reliever.
Ortiz could end up being a very solid regular player, especially at cost-controlled prices.
Hall could end up being a quality high-leverage reliever.
Burnes could end up spending just this ’24 season (his last year of control) in Baltimore.
Even if each of those things happen, it’s still a worthwhile trade.
When the ’23 season ended, it was apparent the O’s needed bullpen help to minimize the loss of Felix Bautista, and that a front-end starter was the best way to improve the existing roster.
Mission accomplished with those goals.
2024 Craig Kimbrel is not going to be as good as 2023 Felix Bautista, but Kimbrel still has something in the tank, and 417 career saves.
He adds to the pen with his experience, and by allowing Yennier Cano to be used in other situations.
The O’s could be a better team in many facets than they were in ’23, and still not win the same 101 games.
Had Kimbrel been the only addition of note before this ’24 season began, I think most prognosticators would say regression was coming, but the O’s could still play their way into the post-season.
With the addition of Burnes, I’m pretty sure the O’s will become the prohibitive betting favorite to repeat as AL East Division Champion, when Spring Training commences shortly in Sarasota.
Jolt To the Clubhouse?
The existing O’s core had experienced an organization that operated frugally. With many of them years away from Free Agency, they collectively didn’t seem concerned about that.
They like their overall talent, are happy to be in the bigs, and like the chance to compete.
Still, the players are human. There had to be some frustration that existed somewhere in their respective conscious where they wondered, “Is this team ever going to spend around us? Spend to keep what we are building? Be willing to do what’s necessary to augment what we have?”
This is a move that signifies to everyone – the O’s fans, Media, and the existing players – that this organization wants to win it all.
The Real Significance?
The O’s were very good last year. You could pick at them, and say they probably weren’t quite as good as their 101 wins indicated.
Toronto made the post-season last year as the 3rd Wild Card, winning 89 games.
Before this trade, if you were thinking of ways the O’s could go from 101 wins last year, to possibly not making the post-season in ’24 – the two primary concerns would be 1) Numerous significant injuries, and 2) The rotation imploding.
I think the primary thing Burnes gives the O’s, is increased odds of reaching the post-season.
He’s made 65 starts the last two years, covering nearly 400 innings.
Barring an unforeseen injury, he should be expected to be a continued workhorse.
He greatly reduces the possible variance of this roster in my opinion.
Before the trade, the O’s rotation was looking like Bradish, Rodriguez, Means, Kremer, Wells.
With Burnes, everyone falls back a spot, with Wells going to bullpen where he can help.
Bradish was awesome last year.
Rodriguez was very strong the last couple of months.
Means missed basically all of the last two seasons.
Since he was able to get back on the mound at the end of ’23, I figure he will be ready to go when ’24 begins.
But there has to be some question of can you rely on him, and how many innings is he capable of in ’24?
Those questions would be much louder without Burnes. With Burnes, Means is looking like your 4th starter, and you feel great about that.
I think the playoffs are basically a flip-of-the coin.
I think what you do over 162 games is much more telling of who you are, than what happens over a couple of short playoff series.
For me, the goal would be building a team that is poised to annually compete. Get into the post-season, and take your chances. Hope the coin-flip, lands in your favor.
That said, you certainly feel better about your chances in any short-series, with Burnes, Bradish, and Rodriguez.
Will This Be Burnes Only Season In Baltimore?
If there wasn’t the change in Ownership, I think you’d have to look at this addition as simply a rental.
With the Ownership change, who knows? They’ve got significantly deeper pockets, and typically new Ownership groups in professional sports like to open their wallets and buy additional accessories for their new toy.
If Burnes enjoys his Summer, maybe a deal is found.
Obviously it would take a lot of zeros for him to forgo Free Agency; but as we’ve said for years – one of the advantages of the O’s building in this manner is that they have minimal payroll obligations.
I think it’s a good bet the new Owners will be willing to make a hefty offer. Doesn’t mean Burnes will take it, but I’m not expecting the new Ownership to ever opine that it feels like they’re offering Confederate money.
If Burnes does leave in Free Agency, the O’s will get Draft Comp back similar to what they gave up for him.
How Else Does The Trade Impact?
We mentioned Wells being bumped to the bullpen above.
That has a chance to really help the pen as a whole.
Thinking about the line up, if Ortiz was not traded, he would have gone to Sarasota and had an opportunity to make the roster.
Could he have potentially headed North as the O’s SS to begin the ’24 season, with Holliday back at Norfolk?
Does it now become a forgone conclusion that Holliday will be in the O’s Opening Day lineup?
Maybe not completely, but the odds have gone up.
It was easier to me, to argue for Holiday going back to AAA with Ortiz still around.
Holliday only had 75 AAA ab’s. Some have said his glove could use a bit of refinement.
I guess it’s still possible, the O’s could have Urias at 3rd, Henderson at SS, and Westburg at 2nd to begin the year; but definitely won’t be surprised at this point if it’s Henderson at 3rd, Holliday at SS, and Westburg at 2nd on Opening Day.
Haven’t Used All Of Their Bullets
As fun as it is to add a former Cy Young winner, who will be 29 all of this ’24 season; maybe the most exciting part of this deal, is recognizing that if the Orioles get to a point in the season where there is need to make another external addition of note; they will have that capability. They used their existing organizational depth to make an addition of real consequence, but they have room for another deal if need be.
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.