MLB Rumors: Braves made potential mistake not waiting on Corbin Burnes trade
Coming into the offseason, Alex Anthopoulos made it clear that the Atlanta Braves were going to be upgrading pitching. In typical fashion for this regime in Cobb County, though, we didn't quite know how the organization was going to go about doing that.
Eventually, it started to become clearer and more likely that the Braves would utilize the trade market. Anthopoulos ultimately did, sending Vaughn Grissom to the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale and cash considerations, adding the multi-time All-Star southpaw to the rotation in hopes that he can stay healthy. The deal had to be seen as a win for Atlanta.
But then on Thursday night, the Baltimore Orioles appeared to pay pennies on the dollar in order to land former NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers. And that has many fans asking if the Braves actually made the wrong trade to upgrade the rotation this offseason.
Chase Irle of SportsTalkATL broke down the possibility of the Braves paying a similar price for Burnes for a frankly younger, better, and healthier ace. But while it would've landed them a better rotation fix in the short-term, he argues that it was actually smarter for Atlanta to not go to the top of the trade market for a player in Burnes with just the 2024 season left of club control:
"A deal like this wouldn’t have made nearly as much sense for the Braves. They could have put together an even more enticing package, sending something like AJ Smith-Shawver and Vaughn Grissom to Milwaukee. However, the Braves weren’t going to strike a long-term deal with Burnes. Trading one of their top pitching prospects for a one-year rental would have had the future outlook of their rotation looking really bleak."
Any Braves fan lamenting that the Orioles only paid a slightly higher price for Burnes than Atlanta did for Sale is likely overlooking the contract situation. Not only is Sale a veteran rental who was more cost-effective on the trade market, but the Red Sox are paying part of his salary in 2024 and Anthopoulos has already worked out an extension.
There was a fat chance of that happening with Burnes, who is looking for top of market money on his next contract, which is something the Braves are already facing pessimistically with Max Fried. All told, while Burnes would've been a bigger upgrade to the Braves rotation, the long-term outlook of the trades made better suited Atlanta to make the deal for Sale, not the splashier trade.