MLB Trade Grades: Orioles new owners make splash adding Corbin Burnes

The Baltimore Orioles are making moves!

Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers
Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles are here to play.

On the verge of new ownership, the Orioles have traded for three-time All-Star and 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. In exchange, the Milwaukee Brewers will receive SS Joey Ortiz and LHP D.L. Hall, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. Milwaukee will also receive a 2024 Competitive Balance Round A draft pick, per Mark Feinsand.

This is a major swing from the Orioles, who will acquire Burnes in the final year of his contract. Baltimore does not have a track record of major free agent signings, but there is hope that new owners — private equity billionaires David Rubenstein and Mike Arougheti — will bring a more competitive budget to the American League's No. 1 seed.

Last season was pure magic for the Orioles, who overcame their basement-dwelling payroll to win 101 games with one of the youngest rosters in baseball. Now, Baltimore will couple internal growth with one of the game's top arms. Burnes was as sharp as ever for the NL Central champs in 2023, posting a 3.39 ERA and 1.069 WHIP with 200 strikeouts in 193.2 innings pitched.

We cannot fully "grade" this trade until Burnes' upcoming free agency plays out, but there's no reason for Baltimore to swing this trade without a plan to keep Burnes beyond 2024. In the meantime, the Orioles just staked their claim as one of the best teams in the AL, if not the best.

MLB trade grades: Orioles make slam-dunk move for Brewers' Corbin Burnes

The right-handed Burnes has finished top-10 in Cy Young voting in four straight years, including his victory in 2021. He will make $15.7 million this season before hitting unrestricted free agency next winter. With how the current market for pitchers is shaping up, Burnes can expect a hearty payday — if not from Baltimore, then from one of the several competitive markets around the league.

Burnes displays excellent command over his five-pitch arsenal, highlighted by his 94 MPH cutter. In addition to solid strikeout numbers and power pitches, Burnes has a knack for soft contact. His 32.4 percent hard-hit rate last season landed in the 90th percentile, per Baseball Savant.

The Orioles are loaded with promising young pitchers, such as Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez, but the lack of a true No. 1 ace to anchor the rotation was a key reason for their premature postseason exit. Burnes has high-level experience and he will give the Orioles a bankable workhorse once the playoffs arrive. And yes, the playoffs will arrive for this group.

On the flip side, Milwaukee jumps off a sinking ship. The relationship with Burnes simply wasn't salvageable long-term after prior arbitration fights turned sour. Milwaukee could have kept Burnes and made one last swing at the postseason, but it's better to recoup value now — before he potentially damages his value during the season or leaves without compensation in free agency.

Joey Ortiz is one of several excellent position players making their way through the Baltimore farm system. He slashed .321/.378/.507 with nine home runs and 58 RBI in 349 AB for Triple-A Norfolk last season. The 25-year-old isn't far from a full-time MLB spot. He made 33 at-bats for the Orioles in 2023.

D.L. Hall, 25, made 18 appearances for Baltimore last season. He posted a 3.26 ERA and 1.190 WHIP with 23 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. He will inherit a spot in the Brewers' bullpen, with plenty of potential left untapped.

This is a solid trade both ways. Perhaps Milwaukee could have risked a longer wait and gunned for a higher-profile prospect, but the Brewers are padding their farm system while the Orioles are (finally) going all-in on World Series contention.

Orioles trade grade: A+

Brewers trade grade: B

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