Good morning, Camden Chatters.
Remember, like, four days ago, when we were lamenting what a boring offseason it had been for the Orioles?
Yeah. Things escalated quickly.
On Tuesday, news broke of the sale of the team to David Rubenstein, a massive development that will end the 30-year reign of the wildly unpopular Angelos family. And it turns out that wasn’t even the biggest bombshell of the week. Last night, Mike Elias pulled off the most shocking blockbuster deal of his O’s tenure — and arguably one of the biggest blockbusters in Orioles history — by acquiring right-hander Corbin Burnes, the 2021 NL Cy Young winner, from the Brewers to headline the club’s rotation.
If you’re wondering, “When’s the last time the Orioles traded for a former Cy Young winner?” I’ll save you some time: never. They’ve never done it before in their 70-year history. And though Burnes’s past two seasons haven’t been as dominant as his award-winning 2021 campaign — when he led the league in in ERA (2.43), FIP (1.63), and K/9 (12.6) — he’s still a legitimate top-of-the-rotation arm who has struck out 200+ batters three straight years and excels at keeping runners off the bases. He’s the exact kind of ace the O’s have been searching for, a massive upgrade who could push the Orioles into a championship-caliber club. Burnes is a free agent after this season, so he could end up being just a one-year rental...but if this isn’t the year to go for it, when is?
Plus, the price for Burnes wasn’t as hefty as I expected it would be: DL Hall, Joey Ortiz, and a competitive balance draft pick (#34 overall) in the 2024 draft. The draft pick was expendable, as the O’s already have two picks before it (#22 and #32). Ortiz, while an intriguing prospect with a great glove at short, has seemed destined to be traded since last year. The Birds’ infield logjam includes last year’s Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson and baseball’s #1 prospect Jackson Holliday, leaving little room for guys like Ortiz. Perhaps the most painful loss is Hall, who emerged as a late-inning weapon for the O’s down the stretch and in the playoffs, but even he faces questions about whether his future role is in the rotation or the bullpen. The O’s acquired Burnes without dealing their most heralded prospects like Holliday, Heston Kjerstad, Coby Mayo, and Samuel Basallo, and I’ll take that trade every time.
Kudos to Elias for pulling off a coup. This far into the offseason, I was starting to doubt the Orioles were going to make a major move, and was resigned to the fact that they would just go into spring training with no significant pitching upgrades from last year. As always, I was utterly clueless. In Elias we trust.
All the Corbin Burnes news that’s fit to print:
Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! It’s a good day for Orioles birthdays, as not one but two members of the Orioles Hall of Fame were born on Feb. 2. Don Buford, who had a very productive half-decade as an O’s outfielder and second baseman, turns 87, while the ultra-versatile Melvin Mora, whose 10-year Baltimore career included two All-Star selections and a Silver Slugger award, turns 52. A guy not in the O’s HOF but who had some quality seasons for the Birds, right-hander Scott Erickson, is 56. Other former Orioles born on this day include outfielder Travis Snider (36) and left-handers Pat Clements and Paul Kilgus (both 62).
On this date in 1954, the Orioles released the legendary Hall of Famer and former Negro Leagues star Satchel Paige. The 46-year-old Paige had spent the previous three seasons with the St. Louis Browns but was cut loose when the franchise moved to Baltimore.
On this day in 1973, the O’s released Don Buford. On his birthday?? Rude!
And on this date in 2005, the Orioles acquired Sammy Sosa from the Cubs. It was certainly a big-name addition, as Sosa — a former NL MVP and seven-time All-Star — was 574 homers deep into a Hall of Fame-caliber career, but he was well past his prime at that point and was more of a salary dump than a franchise-altering acquisition. Indeed, he posted just a .671 OPS and 14 homers in his lone season with the Orioles.