What is one year of an ace worth? The Milwaukee Brewers are fielding calls from other teams on staff ace and Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes and there's a good chance a Burnes trade is completed this offseason.
What could a Burnes trade look like? What is a return that would convince the Brewers to part with arguably the best starting pitcher in franchise history? The Athletic's Jim Bowden has a proposal, and it actually isn't half bad.
Bowden's proposal has the Brewers trading with the Baltimore Orioles and snagging a solid return of prospects and close to big league ready talent.
In this proposed deal, the Brewers get their choice of outfielder Heston Kjerstad, outfielder Colton Cowser, or corner infielder Coby Mayo as the headliner. Along with one of those three, the Brewers would get LHP Cade Povich, and infield prospect Frederick Bencosme.
Let's start with the headlining options. All three would be acceptable headlining prospects for a player like Corbin Burnes. The Brewers are swimming in outfielders currently, though, so they don't really have a need for Heston Kjerstad or Colton Cowser, as talented as they are. However the Brewers do have a need at the corner infield spots, which makes 1B/3B Coby Mayo a very intriguing headliner and the player who would likely be the Brewers choice in this scenario.
Mayo spent last year in Double-A and Triple-A, finishing with a .290/.410/.563 slash line with 45 doubles, 29 homers, 99 RBIs, and 93 walks. Hitting for average, power, and getting on base the way he does is exactly what the Brewers need.
Cade Povich is the Orioles' 11th ranked prospect and he's yet to make his MLB debut, but he pitched in Triple-A last year and could earn a rotation spot out of spring training. Without Burnes and Woodruff, the Brewers would surely have spots available for Povich to earn one. His lack of MLB experience is somewhat concerning considering what the Brewers are giving up and what they need in 2024, but next year may be a step back anyway.
Frederick Bencosme is a 20 year old shortstop that is Baltimore's 23rd ranked prospect. He hit .311 with a .793 OPS across three levels in 2022, but struggled in High-A Aberdeen in 2023, hitting just .246 with a .657 OPS. He did steal 28 bases, he draws walks and doesn't strike out much. Bencosme is a contact-hitter that doesn't have much power but he knows how to get on base. He can play all over the infield and may have a future as a utility player if some power doesn't develop.
A return of Mayo, Povich, and Bencosme would give the Brewers the 4th, 11th, and 23rd ranked prospects from a strong Orioles farm system in exchange for one year of Corbin Burnes. Mayo could immediately plug one of Milwaukee's biggest and longest-standing needs, Povich would give the Brewers a left handed option for their rotation, and Bencosme gives some potential upside down the road.
If this is the trade return the Brewers get for Burnes, they'd be pretty happy with it. Most mock trades out there aren't very good. When they involve the Brewers, typically Milwaukee gets the short end on every one of those mock trades. In this case, the Brewers make out pretty well. Time will tell if the Brewers end up moving Burnes and what kind of return they'll get.