Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes has been (and will continue to be) mentioned in several trade proposals this offseason. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner has two years of club control remaining. There is little hope that the Brewers will shell out the money necessary to extend him, leaving many fans and analysts to believe that he will be traded at some point. In a recent trade article, mlb.com writer Thomas Harrigan proposed an interesting trade that would send Burnes from the Brewers to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Corbin Burnes Trade Details
Of course, any trade involving Burnes right now would require a team to part with numerous high-level talent. In Harrigan’s scenario, the Brewers would receive the following players:
- OF Colton Cowser (Orioles #4 prospect)
- INF Jordan Westburg (Orioles #5 prospect)
- LHP Cade Povich (Orioles #14 prospect)
- RHP Kyle Bradish
Aside from being the Orioles’ number four prospect, Cowser is also the 40th ranked prospect in all of baseball. Last season, Cowser shot up the Orioles’ farm system, playing for High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. Overall, Cowser hit .278/.406/.469 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI. He stole 18 bases, scored 114 runs, and walked 98 times. However, he also struck out 174 times.
Like Cowser, Westburg is a top-100 prospect (#76) in all of MLB. He played short stop, second base, and third base for the Orioles on their Double-A and Triple-A teams this past season. Between the two levels, he hit .265/.355/.496 with 27 home runs and 106 RBI. Westburg stole 12 bases, scored 96 runs, and walked 70 times. He did, however, strikeout 147 times in 138 games.
Unlike Cowser and Westburg, who could be Major League ready in 2023, Povich needs more time to develop. Povich was originally in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system, but was traded to the Orioles last year for catcher Jorge Lopez. Between High-A and Double-A, Povich was 10-10 with a 4.50 ERA. While the ERA is a tad high, Povich did record 148 strikeouts in 114.0 innings. He certainly has the potential to be a big-time arm in the Majors.
After just six starts between the Orioles Double-A and Triple-A teams last season, Bradish was called up and spent the rest of the season with the Major League club. He made 23 starts with the Orioles, going 4-7 with a 4.90 ERA.
Would This Trade Be Good for the Brewers
The obvious downside to the trade would be that Corbin Burnes would be gone. There are few pitchers that can match his talent and skill in baseball right now. Losing him would be a tremendous loss. However, as Harrigan wrote in his article:
And with Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Eric Lauer, Aaron Ashby and Adrian Houser remaining on the roster, the Brewers would still have the arms to contend in the NL Central next season.
As Harrigan also points out, this trade would give the Brewers four of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. Jackson Chourio (#10) and Sal Frelick (#46) are already part of the Brewers’ farm system. The years of control of so much young talent is certainly intriguing for such a low-spending team like the Brewers.
The addition of Westburg would be a very interesting one. Personally, he is my favorite player in this trade. He can play second, short, and third, and can hit for power. When is the last time the Brewers had a power-hitting infield prospect? Milwaukee also has questionable depth at third and second, two positions Westburg can play. Additionally, with the short stop market what it is (signings for hundreds of millions of dollars), there is less and less hope that the Brewers will be able to extend Willy Adames.
As difficult as it is to accept, the Brewers are not going to spend what is needed to retain their current talent beyond 2023 or 2024.
Potential Problems with the Corbin Burnes Trade
The first problem, of course, is that the Brewers would no longer have Corbin Burnes. Unless Milwaukee would then be able to extend Brandon Woodruff, it would seem that such an action now would be irresponsible. In other words, go for the World Series while you still have the pitching to do so.
The addition of Cowser is an interesting one as well. While it is never a bad thing to have “too many” good outfield prospects, the Brewers certainly have plenty. I have already mentioned Chourio and Frelick, but they also have Garrett Mitchell and Joey Wiemer. Of course, one or multiple prospects could be used in a future trade. That being said, the Brewers have invested a great deal into these prospects. Frelick and Mitchell may start the season on the Brewers’ roster, joining an outfield that already has Christian Yelich.
Finally, there is also the issue of: what message would it send to the team? The Josh Hader trade broke the Brewers clubhouse. Players openly discussed how they did not feel like the front office believed in them and that they did not feel like it was a “winning” move. Trading away a Cy Young winner with two years left of control also is not a “winning” move.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully expect the Brewers to trade Burnes before he hits free agency. However, that is two years away. Barring an absolute horrendous 2023, I believe the Brewers will attempt to make a deep postseason run with their starting pitching intact for the time being.