A few months ago, general manager Mike Elias made it clear that the Baltimore Orioles were not going to hit the brakes after their remarkable 2023 season, which saw them clinch 101 victories and the American League East title. Their recent acquisition of All-Star right-hander Corbin Burnes exemplifies this commitment to success.
The Orioles’ message to their fans and the rest of the baseball world is clear: they are determined to build upon their achievements and continue their upward trajectory. Baltimore utilized their deep pool of prospects to secure the services of the 29-year-old ace, Corbin Burnes, who will now join promising young pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and Kyle Bradish at the forefront of their starting rotation.
General Manager Mike Elias expressed the significance of this trade, stating, “Corbin Burnes is exactly what we needed. We were in a dogged pursuit of him the entire offseason.”
Burnes, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2021 and has consistently been among the top pitchers in recent years, brings a wealth of talent and experience to the Orioles. He transitions from a successful stint with the NL Central-winning team to another division champion, elevating Baltimore’s pitching prowess.
Speaking about the trade, Burnes acknowledged his good fortune, saying, “Obviously fortunate to be traded from one team that was good to another team that is arguably even better. I’ve been a part of winning seasons for the last seven years now.”
With emerging stars like catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson under long-term contracts and the top-ranked prospect, shortstop Jackson Holliday, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, the Orioles have positioned themselves for a sustained period of competitiveness. However, questions have arisen about their ability to maximize their potential.
To solidify their status as a dominant force in the American League, the Orioles can explore two key strategies:
1. Increase their payroll by signing young talents to long-term deals or adding experienced free agents to their currently cost-effective roster.
2. Utilize their surplus of prospects to acquire veteran stars in positions of need.
The recent announcement of the pending sale of the team may facilitate option number one, while the acquisition of Corbin Burnes exemplifies how they can execute option number two.
In exchange for Burnes, Baltimore traded two 25-year-olds, infielder Joey Ortiz and left-hander DL Hall, to the Milwaukee Brewers. Ortiz, who posted an impressive .321 batting average in Triple-A last year, could prove valuable to Milwaukee. However, the Orioles’ wealth of young talent, including Holliday and Henderson, made Ortiz expendable.
Additionally, Baltimore included a competitive balance draft pick in the trade, which could potentially be recouped if Burnes opts for free agency after the 2024 season.
The only notable concern for the Orioles in this trade is Burnes’ expiring contract. However, for now, the focus remains on winning games and achieving success in the upcoming season.
The Orioles demonstrated their ability to make bold moves and acquire proven stars, addressing their pitching concerns and bolstering their roster for the challenges ahead.
As Mike Elias stated, “He was at the top of the board from a talent perspective… Once they did that, I think we have the firepower in our farm system to make these trades.”