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Incoming Orioles controlling partner David Rubenstein would certainly endear himself to the fan base if the first thing he did upon his ownership group gaining approval from Major League Baseball were to lock up newly acquired pitching ace Corbin Burnes to a long-term extension.
That would cost a pretty penny and send quite a message – as would extensions for top young stars Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman – but the time is not right for the team or Burnes to take their relationship to the next level.
The Orioles, regardless of the willingness of the new owners to dramatically increase the payroll – which is far from a certainty — have every reason to wait to see what they are going to get for the $15 million that Burnes will make in his final season before becoming eligible for free agency. It makes far more sense to wait until midseason to explore an extension and keep the club’s options open going into the July 30th trade deadline.
If the money is there, Burnes is pitching well and the Orioles are cruising into the playoffs, they’ve got three months of exclusive negotiating rights. If the team stumbles and the price is too high, it can grab back some young talent by dealing him to a contender.
No one wants to ponder the possibility that he doesn’t pitch well, but he’s coming to the hard-hitting AL East, and he’s going to be pitching in a home stadium that can be tough on right-handers.
Pretty sure superagent Scott Boras will be on the phone to Rubenstein this spring, if he hasn’t been already, but he’s not in the business of giving hometown discounts, and this isn’t even Burnes’ hometown yet. Boras knows that Burnes is joining a team that just won 101 games, plays great defense and has a deep bullpen, so the stage is set for his client to have a terrific 2024 season leading into free agency.
I’m guessing Burnes – like the team – would also like to get the lay of the land. He’s a Central California kid who has played his whole career in Milwaukee, so going to a warmer Mid-Atlantic state should not be a major adjustment.
The ballpark dimensions could be an issue, since opposing teams like to pack their lineups with left-handed bats to take advantage of the power-friendly perimeter in right and right-center field, but Burnes’ power splits would argue against it being much of a problem. He has given up about one homer every 10 innings the past two seasons, but over the course of his career has surrendered 33 percent fewer home runs to left-handed hitters than righties.
Since he led the National League with a 1.069 WHIP in 2023 and has ranked among the top eight vote-getters for the Cy Young Award in each of his four seasons as a full-time starter (and won the award in 2021) he should be okay.
RAVENS LINKS FROM BALTIMORESPORTS.COM