The Milwaukee Brewers and Corbin Burnes' arbitration process may be the beginning of the end for their relationship
The St. Louis Cardinals’ surge during the second half in 2022 helped them to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central lead, and they never looked back. Following the Brewers' second-half collapse and missing the postseason, many pointed to the Josh Hader trade as the turning point in their season. Now the Brewers are making the same mistakes with ace Corbin Burnes.
The 2021 Cy Young winner went 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA last season and is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers in today’s game. Rightfully so, Burnes was seeking a raise during the arbitration process, and Milwaukee allowed this situation to sour over a difference of $750k.
There were already rumors of Burnes being traded in the next 12 months due to his club control fading away after the 2024 season. The club will likely pass on handing him the kind of contract he will get in free agency, so it was only a matter of time before a trade manifested itself. It now seems like that timeline is accelerating itself with how the club has decided to handle the process.
If you listen to Burnes' interview, you can tell he is a class act and will continue to go out and pitch at a high level for the club. But the relationship has taken a hit, and it's eerily similar to what happened to Hader over the last few seasons in Milwaukee. When the Hader deal happened, multiple players opened up about how it impacted their clubhouse (quotes via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com).
"“There was a shock factor to it,” Eric Lauer said. “Everybody was taken aback by it a little bit. As far as who we have in the clubhouse and what we have here, I don’t think we’re in any worse position to win as many games as we should. The only thing I can think of was, from the top down it seemed like there was a weird behind-the-scenes message that was sent that a lot of people didn’t jive with...Afterward, there was no communication to the clubhouse [about] what changed in the clubhouse. It’s kind of like it was shrugged off,” Lauer said"- Eric Lauer
For a team that is supposed to challenge the Cardinals in the NL Central in 2023, they are already off to a rocky start internally. I already had my doubts about big of a threat the Brewers truly were. If things do not start off well for the club during the season, this situation could sour quickly and names like Burners, Brandon Woodruff, Willy Adames, and more could find themselves on the trade block at Milwaukee builds for the future.
Keep an eye on this situation, Cardinals fans. If the situation in Milwaukee truly implodes, it will not just affect the National League Central race. Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and New York Mets will surely be calling the Brewers about their front-line starters, which could make the Cardinals' path in October even more difficult this year.