After feeling some initial shock when he was told he was going to be traded, new Orioles right-hander Corbin Burnes is now starting to let the big news in his world settle in now.
After six seasons, 167 games, a Cy Young Award, five playoff appearances and three division titles – all with the Brewers – he’s about to get know new players and a new organization.
“Initial reaction, just shock,” Burnes was honest to tell Baltimore media during a team Zoom call this afternoon. “Being so close to spring training and what had gone down the last couple of weeks in Milwaukee, was definitely shocked, got the call from the GM and kind of set off a flurry of calls after that.
“But excited to be part of the Baltimore organization. Having won over 100 games last year it’s a good young group. I’m looking to kind of put my mark and do whatever I can to help those guys get to the World Series.”
The 2021 National League Cy Young winner got off to a bit of slow start last season. Then he posted an ERA of 2.71 his last 14 starts to finish 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA. He led the NL in WHIP at 1.069 and his .200 average against was second in the league. Since 2020, his ERA of 2.86 produces an ERA+ of 146.
He has pretty consistently been among the best pitchers in the game, seen by his finishing sixth, first, seventh and eighth for the NL Cy Young award since 2020.
Now instead of heading for Arizona soon, he’ll be flying to spring training in Sarasota, Fla.
“It’s the guys that are behind you. You have a lot of good young defenders behind you and guys that are eager to play and hungry to go out and win. It’s an exciting team,” he said of joining the Orioles.
In Baltimore he might be the player that takes a really good team to the top of the sport.
“Fortunate to be traded from one team that was good to another team that arguably is even better,” said Burnes, 29. “I’ve been a part of winning seasons for the last (six) years. I know what it’s like to get to the postseason on a regular basis. Last year what those guys showed was special.
“Going from a team that has done nothing but win, to a team that is arguably better and is probably going to win for many years to come is exciting. Just hoping to add whatever I can.”
He said he played with O’s reliever Danny Coulombe in Triple-A and knows a few guys on the O’s farm from his college ball days. He expects to have more in depth conversations with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde after brief visits with each yesterday.
He's ready to be a leader and mentor for the rotation pitchers.
“Just looking forward to passing on what I can to these young guys in that rotation," he said. "Obviously (Kyle) Bradish had a great year last year. (Grayson) Rodriguez had a great year in the second half. Some bright young names that have really good stuff and showed it. Getting (John) Means back will be big for that rotation as well. So just getting to know those guys and helping when I can. I’ve learned a lot over my time in the big leagues and hopefully I can pass some knowledge onto those guys.
“I have gotten a lot of texts from guys that know of the Orioles say how great the organization is. Knowing it’s a great group of, not only players, but staff members, front office members, a whole organization that is pulling together to try and win a World Series," he said.
Burnes, an All-Star each of the last three seasons, was picked as the No. 2 starting pitcher in the majors behind the Yankees' Gerrit Cole by MLB Network in their "Top 10 Right Now" series recently.
He has a 2.84 ERA in eight career postseason games and is 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in five career starts versus American League East teams.
Burnes today echoed comments he made earlier in the winter about wanting to test free agency next winter. He can be a free agent after the 2024 season. But if the O's approach him to talk about a possible extension, will he be open to that?
“So obviously my focus is getting to Florida, getting to know the guys," he said. "I think I’ve been pretty honest in that being a year away from free agency is something everyone wants to get to. Everyone wants to pick where they will play. I don’t know what kind of talks will come about. But once the season starts, we will want to focus on winning games and doing what’s best for the Orioles."