This morning, Jesse Rogers dropped a massive Chicago Cubs offseason update article at ESPN, and I could not more strongly recommend you read it. The thing is just loaded with rumors and plans and possibilities, and it’s going to take me a little time to digest and synthesize my thoughts on it all.
In the meantime, I did want to comment quickly on one of the things that REALLY jumped out at me. Everyone knows the Cubs want to add a starting pitcher or two this offseason, and having a front-of-the-rotation arm would be particularly good. We also know that the Brewers may look to sell off a piece or two, given the state of their team and the players they might soon lose to free agency anyway.
But those are not dots I would have necessarily connected, as Rogers reports they are:
“They also have an eye on Milwaukee starter Corbin Burnes, in case the Brewers begin to subtract — and Milwaukee is willing to trade with the team that just pilfered its manager.”
Wow. That’s not just a “this might fit” situation – it’s Rogers saying the Cubs actually have Burnes on the radar as a possibility for a trade, however remote.
When I think about the Cubs picking up an ace type arm with one year left before free agency, obviously the guy I’ve been talking up is Tyler Glasnow, primarily because we know he’s going to be available.
Burnes, by contrast, is not a guy I’d been thinking of. That is in part because the Brewers may not trade him right now (preferring instead to try to compete in the first half and then re-evaluate), but mostly because I just cannot fathom the Cubs and Brewers making that caliber of trade, especially – as Rogers notes – in the wake of the Craig Counsell move. Thinking about the quality of prospects it would take to land Burnes from the Brewers (there would ABSOLUTELY be an “NL Central” sur-tax tacked on by the Brewers), and it’s a group of guys I really, really wouldn’t want to see terrorizing the Cubs for the next eight years. I’ve gotta believe, if the Brewers shop Burnes, there will be better and more realistic trade fits out there.
Also, as an aside, Burnes did take a pretty healthy step back in his age-28 season this year, with all of his peripherals moving in the wrong direction for the second straight year. I’d still love to have him on the Cubs, of course, but I’m just saying, he wasn’t the guy you remember from a couple years ago.
That doesn’t mean this rumor doesn’t have some important legs to it.
That is to say, I think the main takeaway here is probably less about Corbin Burnes, specifically, and more about the Cubs’ interest in adding that caliber of pitcher via trade (or, well, obviously via free agency – but then you’re not just getting one year). They would be willing to trade a healthy prospect package to pick up the right arm to impact their 2024 push.