The Baltimore Orioles finally got a proven top-line pitcher to go along with all that young hitting talent.
The Orioles acquired All-Star right-hander Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night. Baltimore sent left-hander DL Hall, infield prospect Joey Ortiz and a competitive draft pick to Milwaukee in the deal for the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner.
It’s a blockbuster for the Orioles, who were having a quiet offseason but held out hope of adding more pitching as they prepared to defend their American League East championship.
Baltimore has an excellent core of young players, particularly position players, but has not been particularly aggressive in terms of signing free agents or making trades. That changed on Thursday.
Even after a 101-win season last year, there were questions about whether the Orioles could sustain a true American League giant, given their low payroll. Then on Wednesday, the team announced that Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein had agreed to buy the Orioles and become their new controlling owner, a move that could allow the franchise to spend more in the future.
The next day, the Orioles traded for Burnes, who turned 29 in October. He went 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA last year. The previous three seasons, he had an ERA under 3.00, even as he went 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA in 2021.
He can become a free agent at the end of next season, and that was a factor in this deal.
“Any time you trade a guy like Corbin, it’s always a tough decision,” Brewers general manager Matt Arnold said. “I think the general theme here is that we are excited about the players we are going to get back. And the reality of our situation is that we had one year left with Corbin. I think Corbin had been pretty public about how this was going to be his last year as Brewer.”
Burnes joins a Baltimore rotation that was good enough to win a division title last season but remains more of a question mark than other areas of the roster. Kyle Bradish and rookie Grayson Rodriguez pitched well down the stretch in 2023, and now Burnes comes in as someone who clearly can be an ace when he throws to his potential.
Baltimore will send Hall, 25, a 2017 first-round pick, to the Brewers after he went 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA last season. Ortiz, 25, is ranked as baseball’s No. 63 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He hit .321 in Triple-A last year and appeared in 15 games for the Orioles.
“I wouldn’t consider this any kind of reconstruction,” Arnold said. “In fact, this is something that we think helps us now and in the future.”
The competitive balance draft pick is currently ranked 34th overall.
Ortiz’s path to playing time was complicated in Baltimore, as the Orioles also have Gunnar Henderson, last year’s American League Rookie of the Year, on the left side of their infield. And they can expect to add shortstop Jackson Holliday, baseball’s top-rated prospect, in the near future.
Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman were two of the top prospects to have already arrived in Baltimore and helped the Orioles rise to the top of their division, but while the organization appears to have plenty of position player depth, the pitchers has been more uncertain.
Milwaukee won the NL Central by nine games last year, but the Burnes trade and the decision not to tender Brandon Woodruff, who remains a free agent, means the Brewers will begin the season without both of their cornerstones. their rotation that helped them enjoy. the franchise’s longest streak of sustained success.
Woodruff injured his shoulder shortly before the start of the 2023 playoffs and the surgery could cause him to miss the entire 2024 season.
Those departures mean Freddy Peralta will begin the season as Milwaukee’s top starting pitcher. Peralta, a 2021 All-Star, went 12-10 with a 3.86 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 165 2/3 innings last season.
The Brewers also return Wade Miley and Colin Rea. They hope to get lefty Aaron Ashby back after he missed the entire 2023 season with a shoulder injury.
Robert Gasser, one of the players acquired in the 2022 trade that sent star closer Josh Hader to San Diego, could be ready to compete for a rotation spot after going 9-1 with a 3.79 ERA for Triple- To Nashville last season.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee contributed to this report.
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