In a shocking blockbuster, the Milwaukee Brewers dealt longtime ace Corbin Burnes to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for LHP D.L. Hall, SS Joey Ortiz, and the 34th overall pick in the 2024 draft. With Burnes the ace of the NL Central-winning Brewers last year, this move has enormous implications for the Cardinals.
The NL Central just opened up in 2024
After the Brewers added first baseman Rhys Hoskins on a two-year deal, it looked like Milwaukee was going for one last run with the current core. After all, it was always unlikely they would retain Burnes following his walk year in 2024. By adding a legitimate power bat at first base and calling up super-prospect Jackson Chourio after his extension, it looked like the Brewers' lineup would be a bit stronger than in years past. With Burnes and Freddy Peralta headlining the rotation, they were still a real threat to win the division, or at least make a playoff run.
However, without Burnes, the Brewers' rotation looks thin. Freddy Peralta headlining the staff is great, but Wade Miley, Colin Rea, Joe Ross, and the newly acquired D.L. Hall are projected to follow. While the rotation has long been a strength for the Brewers, I'd probably prefer the Cardinals' revamped rotation with proven innings eaters. While it's possible the Brewers will still try to contend in 2024, it'll be extremely difficult to do so without Burnes. We could see a sell-off of valuable pieces such as Willy Adames, Devin Williams, or even Freddy Peralta in the near future. After losing Craig Counsell, Milwaukee might be temporarily resetting for a youth movement in the coming seasons.
As of right now, it looks like the NL Central has become a three-horse race between the Cardinals, Cubs, and Reds. Still, it looks like the Cardinals' division to lose, but with the Reds emerging stars potentially taking a step forward in 2024, and the Cubs looking to add more after a disheartening offseason so far, it's still anyone's guess who will come out on top.