The Chicago Cubs are looking to make a big splash this offseason. They narrowly missed out on a postseason berth this past season, and seem to be doing everything in their power to get back to playing meaningful October baseball for the first time (with fans) since 2018.
The Brewers, on the other hand, find themselves in a difficult position. They just won the NL Central and have made the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, but that was with Craig Counsell as their manager. Counsell is now the Cubs manager after Chicago shocked the world by stealing him away.
Milwaukee could try to compete in 2024, but their window is closing quickly with so many of their key players, including Corbin Burnes, hitting free agency within the next year or two. If they do decide to tear it down, Burnes becomes a prime trade candidate that many teams, including the Cubs, will try to acquire. As badly as Chicago might want a pitcher of his caliber, there are more reasons to believe a Burnes trade to the Cubs will not happen.
Corbin Burnes to the Cubs won't happen because they're Milwaukee's division rivals
Let's get the obvious one out of the way first. The chances of the Brewers trading Corbin Burnes, one of the best pitchers in baseball, within their division, are pretty non-existent. Why would Milwaukee choose to send Burnes to a team they'd be facing 13 times each year and competing with in the NL Central?
This can go even deeper than just a division rivalry thing. First, the Cubs have the means to extend Burnes. It's one thing to send him to a team like the Pirates who wouldn't extend Burnes past the 2024 season. Burnes could very easily remain a Chicago Cub for the long haul, and an extension could even be signed before he reaches free agency. That's something Milwaukee will want to avoid.
Additionally, the Cubs just stole Craig Counsell from them and Milwaukee is obviously not happy with that. Gifting him one of the best pitchers in the National League doesn't sound like something Milwaukee would even entertain barring an absolutely monster haul.