The Milwaukee Brewers have been given a great gift. It’s a gift they’ve worked hard for. They have been gifted a true, homegrown ace. For years, the Brewers lacked the capacity to develop a true ace, and now that they have one, they appear to be squandering it.
Corbin Burnes was drafted by the Brewers in the 4th round of the 2016 Draft. The picks ahead of him all turned out to be busts, but Burnes became their best pitching prospect in a long time. He made his MLB debut in 2018 out of the bullpen, and in 2021, he won the NL Cy Young award, the organization’s first since 1982.
You would think, as any smart person would, that a homegrown ace such as Burnes would be an easy candidate to offer a long-term contract extension to. But the Brewers may not be as smart as we all thought they were. Because they have decided not to do the smart thing and try to extend Burnes, but rather not talk to him about an extension at all.
The Milwaukee Brewers are stupidly not attempting to give ace Corbin Burnes a contract extension and are making a colossal mistake by doing so.
Corbin Burnes threw the organization’s first no-hitter since 1987 last year, combined with Josh Hader. He went on to win the Cy Young. He has backed up last year’s dominance with more of the same in 2022. His desire to dominate his opponents, his work ethic, his focus, and track record of health make him one of the surest bets as a long-term investment you can find for the starting rotation.
Burnes told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy that he is open to contract extension talks, but to this point the Brewers have not initiated any. They did not open talks last year and have not done so at all this year.
Granted, there was a lockout last winter, but there were a solid two months where the Brewers were eliminated and the offseason was active before the lockout began that they could’ve started talks. Then in a shortened spring training, talks were limited to just one year, and because of the large number of deals to get through, doing an extension may have been difficult with that time frame.
Still, it wouldn’t take much to indicate the team was open to long-term talks, even if they just wanted a one year deal done for now to get it over with by the deadline. Just say something like “We’d be open to a longer-term contract, for right now we’ll just do a one year deal because the deadline to exchange figures is very soon. But after that, we can talk a deal throughout camp and going forward if you’d like”. That’s it, that’s all you’d have to say. It’s very easy.
If they don’t open up extension talks this winter, it’s unlikely the Brewers ever will. Burnes’ price tag is rising, sure. Perhaps they won’t even have enough money to keep him, that’s entirely possible. But why not at least try? At least make a serious effort to keep around the best starting pitcher in Brewers history. That’s not hyperbole either, he has been the best starting pitcher in franchise history. That’s a guy you want to keep around.
Especially since Burnes seems to want to stick around, which is uncommon for a small market franchise like Milwaukee for a superstar pitcher to want to stay here. He wants to be here, so at least explore it. Will he give a hometown discount? Maybe, maybe not. You won’t know unless you try.
"“For anyone who isn’t on a long-term deal, once you get into your later years of arbitration, anything can happen,” Burnes said. “We saw it with Hader. We might see it this offseason. I don’t know what route the front office is going to take. It’s one of those things you start looking at. You hope you’re here for the long-term — two more years, seven more years, eight more years, 10 more years, whatever it may be — you hope to be in one jersey your entire career. But there’s other things that go into that."
The Brewers are making a colossal mistake having not attempted to extend Burnes yet. They should’ve done so after the 2020 season where he bounced back and performed well. They certainly should’ve started talks after he won the Cy Young last year. What they’re waiting for, I have no idea.
Now, the organization has traded away his best friend on the team in Josh Hader, and he’s wondering if he’s going to be next in order to “remain competitive in the long term”. The ace, the reigning Cy Young winner on a team allegedly with playoff and World Series aspirations, is worried about if he’s going to be traded. That only happens on bad teams that are going nowhere. Are the Brewers one of those teams now?
If the Brewers want to remain competitive and give themselves any shot to win a World Series, they need an ace leading the rotation and they won’t find a better one than Burnes.
They need to be aggressive in extension talks with Burnes this offseason. Show him that you’re interested in him and want him around. He can be convinced to stay, but you have to actually try. That means Mark may have to open the checkbook a little. If there’s anyone to open it for, it’s Burnes.
It’s absurd that this needs to be said. Opening extension talks with Burnes should’ve been as easy a decision as there can be. It just seems to be one giant mistake after another lately.