The 2023 Major League Baseball season is quickly approaching.
Pitchers and catchers are set to report early next week with position players will follow shortly after. Soon enough spring training games will kick off and then before we know it, it will be Opening Day.
The Boston Red Sox have had an intriguing offseason, to say the least after an American League East last-place 78-84 finish in 2022, but there is always more work to be done. Boston’s starting rotation will look different in 2023 but one player the team should target through trade that could help take the team to another level would be Milwaukee Brewers star pitcher Corbin Burnes.
The 28-year-old has developed into one of the league’s brightest stars since transitioning fully to the Brewers’ starting rotation in 2021. Burnes took home the National League Cy Young Award in 2021 after compiling a league-leading 2.43 ERA in 28 starts to go along with 234 strikeouts in 167 innings pitched.
Burnes arguably was more impressive in 2022 with a 12-8 record and 2.94 ERA to go along with a league-leading 243 strikeouts in 33 starts and 202 innings pitched. The right-handed pitcher began his career with the club in 2018 but came out of the bullpen in each of his 30 appearances while compiling a 2.61 ERA. Burners made the first start of his career in 2019 but tallied just 13 starts between 2019 and 2020 despite making 44 appearances.
It certainly isn’t likely that the Red Sox could acquire Burnes, but it would be a great move. Trade rumors have swirled around the two-time All-Star all offseason, but it is unlikely a deal gets done before the 2023 campaign kicks off, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Burnes is under team control and won’t be a free agent until 2025. If the Brewers were to trade the hurler — either before the season or at the 2023 trade deadline — the return likely would be massive. Boston has built up its farm system in recent years to the point where it may be able to meet the asking price of the Brewers if it were to deal with Burnes.
A deal would like to feature some combination of Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas, Brayan Bello, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Miguel Bleis, to go along with young major-league talents like Jarren Duran or Bobby Dalbec.
While it’s unlikely that any deal would happen, a move for Burnes would be the perfect one to help push the Red Sox back in the direction of contention. A starting rotation featuring some combination of Burnes along with a healthy Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Brayan Bello, James, Paxton, and Garrett Whitlock could be a force to be reckoned with. The Red Sox have greatly improved their bullpen and the squad should be solid on the field and offensively.
A move for Burnes may not deliver the Red Sox a World Series in 2023, but it certainly would be the major splash needed to help push Boston closer to being contenders.