It has long seemed inevitable that the Baltimore Orioles would strike and add a top-shelf starting pitcher. Dylan Cease has been a popular rumored target, but he was not the one the club acquired on Thursday night. Seems like the new ownership of the club feels like they have something to prove, so they're coming out of the gates swinging.
According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), the Orioles used some of their seemingly endless prospect depth to acquire Corbin Burnes in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers. Infield prospect Joey Ortiz and left-handed pitcher DL Hall (along with a Competitive Balance Round pick in the 2024 MLB Draft) went back to Milwaukee in the deal.
The Orioles truly have had an embarrassment of riches in the minor leagues. It seems that every single position on the diamond is covered by a super-prospect. What is absolutely astounding is the fact that they were able to acquire an otherworldly starting pitcher without giving up any of their top prospects. Individual team rankings have yet to be released by MLB Pipeline, but Just Baseball had Ortiz as the No. 6 prospect in the Orioles' system before the trade.
Burnes, 29, will immediately become the staff ace for the Orioles. He's set to hit free agency at the end of the 2024 season, but he's sure to torment the Blue Jays all year long.
Last year, the right-hander made 32 starts for the second straight season, going 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA, 3.81 FIP and 127 ERA+. Along the way, he made his third All-Star Game and finished 8th in the NL Cy Young voting. The emergence of Kyle Bradish on the 2023 Orioles was already a big enough blow for the Jays, but the addition of Burnes is going to unleash a whole new level of hell for Toronto, as well as the rest of the AL East.
There's more than one way for this deal to affect the Blue Jays, though. Not only is Burnes going to be a thorn in their side, but there could be another player on the Brewers of interest to the Jays.
Shortstop Willy Adames has long felt like an ideal trade chip for Milwaukee, and also an ideal target for the Jays. While shortstop is his position by trade, Bo Bichette is not going anywhere anytime soon. The Jays have a ton of infielders but Adames could conceivably move to third base and represent an immediate upgrade over the likes of Santiago Espinal and/or Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Adames, 28, hit 24 home runs with 80 driven in last year across 149 games. Since he joined the Brewers, he's become one of the better offensive shortstops in the game while also being no slouch in the field. He is also a pending free agent, so the Blue Jays shouldn't have to gut the farm to acquire him in a deal. He'd represent a significant offensive addition while not exactly breaking the bank like a top-shelf free agent would. Feels like a no-brainer, and Blue Jays fans are already all over it on social media.