The Baltimore Orioles have acquired former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, the teams announced Thursday, giving up infielder Joey Ortiz, left-hander DL Hall and the 34th pick in the 2024 draft in a deal between two reigning division winners.
While Milwaukee had fielded trade offers for Burnes all winter, the shrinking time until spring training had left some teams believing the Brewers would hold on to the 2021 National League Cy Young winner. Up stepped the Orioles, who won 101 games last year and feature perhaps the best young core in the major leagues but had questions about their rotation.
Landing Burnes could help put them to rest. The 29-year-old, who will hit free agency after the 2024 season, went 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 193⅔ innings last year as the Brewers ran away with the NL Central title.
The year before, Burnes led the NL with 243 strikeouts in 202 innings. And in 2021, he punched out 234 in 167 innings, with just 34 walks and posted a 2.43 ERA.
He joins a Baltimore rotation that returns Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez — who had the best and third-best ERAs, respectively, among American League pitchers in the second half — as well as Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells and John Means.
Despite being the favorite in the Central, Milwaukee chose to move Burnes rather than potentially deal him at the trade deadline or lose him in free agency.
“Corbin was a tremendous part of our recent seasons of success, and we appreciate all he contributed to the organization over the years,” Brewers general manager Matt Arnold said. “We wish him and his family the very best going forward.”
Milwaukee sheds Burnes’ $15.6 million salary and will carry an Opening Day payroll estimated by Baseball Prospectus at $92 million. The Orioles, whose owner, John Angelos, earlier this week agreed to sell the team to billionaire David Rubenstein, jump to just about $90 million. Seven other major league teams have sub-$100 million Opening Day payrolls.
Ortiz, 25, could start in the Brewers’ infield this season — and, with his natural position of shortstop, is in line to take over in 2025 if incumbent Willy Adames leaves via free agency. With an infield glut in Baltimore — which includes Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Ramon Urias and prospects Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby — Ortiz was the centerpiece for a number of trade offers this winter.
In 34 plate appearances last year with the Orioles, Ortiz hit .212/.206/.242 while playing second base, third base and shortstop. Since Baltimore selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, Ortiz has grown into a dangerous hitter, slashing .321/.378/.507 with nine home runs and 58 RBIs in 389 Triple-A plate appearances last season.
While Hall has worked as a reliever in parts of two major league seasons, he spent most of his minor league career as a starter. In 2022, he put up gaudy strikeout numbers across three levels — 137 punchouts in 84⅓ innings — and in 33 big league innings, he has struck out 42, walked 11 and allowed two home runs.
Hall could potentially join a Brewers rotation that will be missing Burnes as well as two-time All-Star Brandon Woodruff, who was non-tendered following shoulder surgery. Freddy Peralta is expected to get Milwaukee’s Opening Day start, and left-hander Wade Miley and right-hander Colin Rea return from last season.
“The Brewers are receiving two talented young major league-ready players along with a valuable 2024 draft pick,” Arnold said. “We expect both DL and Joey to have an impact on our 2024 season and beyond.”
Milwaukee recently signed first baseman Rhys Hoskins to a two-year deal with an opt-out after the first season, and center fielder Jackson Chourio — the No. 2 prospect in baseball behind only Holliday, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel — signed an eight-year, $82 million contract this winter before his big league debut and should start the season in Milwaukee as well.
The Brewers, who have had successful drafts in recent years and will get a compensation pick from Baltimore with a slot value of around $2.5 million, have long operated with the future in mind as much as the present, helping them make the postseason five of the past six years. Their biggest deal in recent years was the controversial move that sent All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego around the 2022 trade deadline for prospects Esteury Ruiz and Robert Gasser as well as closer Taylor Rogers and right-hander Dinelson Lamet. The Brewers later dealt Ruiz to acquire All-Star catcher William Contreras, and Gasser could fill the spot in the rotation vacated by Burnes.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.