It should be a really interesting offseason for the Milwaukee Brewers and star pitcher Corbin Burnes. Burnes has one year of team control remaining, which is often a time when a small-market team like Milwaukee considers its next move. If he lands on the trade market, could he be a potential trade target for the SF Giants?
Is star pitcher Corbin Burnes a potential trade target for the SF Giants this winter?
For the Giants, upgrading the rotation should be a priority. Though, as Farhan Zaidi said in his end-of-the-year press conference, they will likely not be in the market for depth options as they have enough. The Giants could be in the market for a mid-rotation option or better.
Burnes certainly checks that box. Unfortunately, Zaidi poured some cold water (six-minute mark) on any short-term rentals in that same press conference:
"We want to have an emphasis on continuity. Players who are going to be here for a long time... We are really trying to consolidate, trying to be more consistent with the players on the team. Stability, I think, helps people perform at their best... Our inclination is to lean toward stability."- Farhan Zaidi
When the Giants lost 98 games in 2017, they treated it as a gap year. They went out and added both Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in trades with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.
The expectation with the Longoria trade was that it was going to be a long-term fit as he had multiple years remaining on his contract. However, McCutchen was entering the final year of his deal, so the Pirates traded him while he still had some value.
Burnes is in a similar position as McCutchen was a few years ago. The right-handed pitcher has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since he debuted in 2018. In that time, he has posted a 3.26 ERA while making at least 30 starts in four of his last five full seasons. Burnes is also a three-time All-Star and won the 2021 National League Cy Young award.
The 2023 campaign was no different for the six-year veteran as he posted a 3.39 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 1.055 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, and a 3.03 SO/W ratio in 32 starts. He helped the Brewers reach the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
On the other hand, the Giants have been to the postseason just once since the 2017 season, so that is a narrative that needs to change quickly, and adding Burnes would help in achieving that end. Plus, the Giants' front office has focused on targeting players with local ties in recent years. They added Hunter Bishop (2019) and Kyle Harrison (2020) in the draft with some of their top picks. Bishop attended Serra High School before playing for Arizona State University, whereas Harrison went to De La Salle High School.
In free agency, they have typically targeted players with local ties like Mitch Haniger and Aaron Judge. Haniger grew up in Mountain View, California. Judge was from Fresno and attended Fresno State University. Of course, the Giants fell short of landing Judge, but geography was one reason why the power hitter seemed like a potential fit.
Plus, Logan Webb grew up just outside of the Sacramento area. The Giants have players with local ties, so Burnes seems like a natural fit given that he is from Bakersfield and attended Saint Mary's College, which is just across the bridge from San Francisco.
Burnes checks off a lot of boxes for the Giants considering that he is an elite pitcher and local to the area. However, it does seem like Zaidi is focused more on building stability with the roster, which would seemingly rule out a rental.
Though, adding someone of Burnes' caliber would be a short-term move that could help Zaidi's case in getting an extension with San Francisco. It would take considerable prospect capital but it feels like such an uncharacteristic move with this regime. Burnes certainly makes sense for the Giants, but the front office is more focused on continuity. When he enters free agency, the Giants will again be a logical fit for the veteran pitcher.