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No doubt, you’ll be hearing the name Eduardo Rodríguez come up in the discussion about the deal that just put 2021 Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes at the head of the Orioles’ 2024 starting rotation.
Rodríguez was the promising young pitcher the Orioles traded to the rival Red Sox for premier setup reliever Andrew Miller to help carry the Orioles over the finish line during their division-winning 2014 season. It was a deal the club would celebrate in the short term and regret over the long term when ERod developed into a very solid starter and a regular Oriole-killer.
The Orioles may well regret sending highly rated infield prospect Joey Ortiz to the Milwaukee Brewers, but there really isn’t room for him at the inn right now. They are more likely to end up waxing nostalgic over left-hander DL Hall, who is pretty likely to be the Eduardo Rodríguez in the mineshaft.
He has the talent to become either a front-line starter or continue to be the effective late-inning reliever he was during his brief time in the O’s bullpen late this past season. Of course, neither will be able to haunt the Orioles very much playing in the National League.
Don’t misunderstand. None of this is an argument against the deal, which may well turn out to be one of the best trades in Orioles history. Like Miller in 2014, Burnes is the real deal and the fact that he is only signed through the end of the season will not be reason for regret if he helps deliver the Orioles into the playoffs for the second year in a row and beyond.
There are a couple of key differences here. For one, Miller was acquired at midseason and pitched just 20 innings as an Oriole, albeit 20 terrific innings that resulted in a 2-0 record, 1.25 ERA and a strikeout ratio to match Félix Bautista’s. And it was pretty obvious the club was not going to be in a position to outbid the Yankees to re-sign him the following winter.
Burnes will be here for at least the full 2024 season, but we won’t know for a while whether the Orioles will be in a position to sign him to an extension that would keep him out of next year’s free-agent market.
It all depends on whether the incoming ownership group is willing to ignore – at least temporarily – the small-market realities that have limited the Orioles to payrolls that consistently rank in the bottom quarter of the major leagues. Baltimore-born billionaire David Rubenstein and partner Mike Arougheti have much deeper pockets than the Angelos family, but they didn’t create all that wealth by throwing good business practices to the wind.
Whether this trade was in the works before they struck the deal to acquire the team, it has helped them make an amazing first impression with Oriole fans, which counts for a lot.
That’s why it’s hard not to hear the theme from Disney’s “Aladdin” in your head and hope that we really are in a whole new world.
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