The Baltimore Orioles checked off arguably their biggest roster need of this offseason with their blockbuster deal on Thursday. They traded infielder Joey Ortiz, relief pitcher D.L. Hall, and the 34th pick in the 2024 MLB Draft to the Milwaukee Brewers for starting pitcher Corbin Burnes.
Hall and Ortiz were the Orioles' fifth and 15th-ranked players, respectively, in the club's 2022 Top 30 Prospect rankings. Hall had a record of 13-22 and a 3.49 ERA in 96 contests, 81 of them starts in his minor league career. He spent part of the 2022 and 2023 seasons with the Orioles as well. He appeared in 29 contests with one start and had a 4-1 record with a 4.36 ERA.
Ortiz had a decent stat line — .285/.357/.449 and a .806 OPS in his four-year minor league career as a member of three clubs affiliated with the Orioles. He was recently ranked No. 63 in Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. He appeared in 15 contests with Baltimore last season and posted a pedestrian .212/.206/.242 line and an OPS of .448.
Burnes, a former Cy Young winner, has demonstrated his capability of being an ace in a starting rotation as he did during his career with the Brewers. He has a career record of 45-27 and a 3.26 ERA in 167 appearances with 106 starts in six seasons with Milwaukee.
Baltimore may only have Burnes for one season, as he'll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, but they won this trade. If it only took this much for the Orioles to acquire the starter, why didn't the Philadelphia Phillies pursue him to make their rotation even better entering the season?
Phillies miss out on an opportunity to improve their rotation
Philadelphia is one of the many organizations that must be flummoxed by the latest trade between the Orioles and Brewers. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski hasn't made many moves aside from re-signing Aaron Nola to a massive extension and adding free agent pitcher Kolby Allard.
If Dombrowski is exercising patience in waiting to make a free agent signing or a trade, he may be using too much restraint as a good opportunity passed him by to add a No. 1 starter for the 2024 season. Having Zack Wheeler and Burnes as their top two starters with Nola, as well, would have given them one of the best rotations in baseball and arguably the top rotation in the league.
While the Phillies didn't have as much of a need to add another starter as the Orioles did, trading for Burnes would have given Philly another option as a proven top starter should Wheeler or Nola miss time this season with an injury.
The fact that it would not have cost them much in terms of trading away top prospects makes it all the more obvious that the Phillies missed out on an opportunity to improve the team. If they're in the market to add another starter mid-season by the Trade Deadline, they may end up overpaying for a pitcher in comparison to what they could have offered the Brewers for Burnes.
As the start of spring training comes closer, it's apparent Philadelphia is content with starting the year with a roster that is mostly identical to the one that ended last season and came up short of returning to the World Series.