Should Twins have matched or beaten Orioles' Corbin Burnes trade offer?

Corbin Burnes was on the Twins radar, and Baltimore got him for a deal that feels beatable.
Milwaukee Brewers v Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

While the Minnesota Twins pulled off a big trade this week, they didn't have the biggest trade of the week. That badge goes to the Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers, who swapped Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes for a trio of prospects.

Only two of the prospects heading back to Milwaukee are known, as the third will come in the form of the No. 34 overall pick in this year's draft. It's about the range of pick the Brewers would have gotten as a compensetory pick if (and probably when) Burnes left in free agency. The real gem is Top 100 prospect Joey Ortiz, who is projected to make a run at an Opening Day roster spot this spring.

Milwaukee also got back D.L. Hall, a young reliever who the Brewers are expected to try and turn into a starter to replace Burnes. It's a trade that the Orioles have no doubt won in the short term, and it's a deal that has many around baseball -- including Twins fans -- wondering if it could have been beaten.

Should Twins have matched Orioles' Corbin Burnes trade offer?

Let's talk this one out and just throw some thoughts against the wall, because the answer feels like it could go both ways. Tell me I'm wrong, becuase I very well might be: Yes the Twins could have matched the Orioles offer but would it have been worth it to do so?

All it took was a Top 100 prospect -- not even the Orioles best one -- and a first round pick from last year. It's clear that Milwaukee wanted future assets but the volume of the trade wasn't nearly as siginficant as what the Twins and Mariners swapped on Monday.

Five players changed hands in that deal, where Corbin Burnes netted the Brewers two players and a future draft pick (the No. 34 pick in this year's draft). Minnesota absolutely could have matched that, but the gratification of knowing they could doesn't exactly add up to the satisfaction of how things might play out.

The question is how badly do the Twins want to replace Sonny Gray in the rotation? Judging from the Jorge Polanco trade and ensuing comments by Derek Falvey, the answer is not bad enough to mortgage the future.

Ortiz was the No. 68 prospect in MLB Pipeline's ranking this year, which means his closest comp in Minnesota's system is Emmanuel Rodriguez. That feels like a pretty steep price to pay for Burnes, not to mention the deal would need to expand beyond just E-Rod's involvement.

The Twins weren't trading Brooks Lee for Burnes and right now Walker Jenkins is untouchable, so the first prospect who can truly be considered is Rodriguez. A comfortable conversation doesn't really start until after E-Rod, which means guys like David Festa, Marco Raya, and Cory Lewis -- all of whom are young pitchers the Twins might be hard pressed to part ways with.

Festa and Raya are close to MLB-ready, and if one of them was going to be involved then it becomes a converastion about how long Burnes stays in Minnesota. He's in the final year of his contract and is due to earn jus tover $15M. That was an arbitration number, and when he hits free agency he'll be in the prime of his career and command an absolutely monster deal.

It's unclear how Baltimore plans on proceeding, but if it were Minnesota then the trade would only make sense if there was a way to work out an extension that keeps Burnes under club control for the next three years at minumum. That would put him on the same timeline as the rest of the core (notably Pablo Lopez) and theoretically give the Twins a powerful 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation through 2026.

In that scenario, parting with Festa or Raya might be worth it.

Without that sort of assurance and stablitity, the risk and reward aren't equal. If all the Twins got was a single season of Burnes at the cost of a top pitching prospect, that feels like a loss.

We're not even factoring in what else the Twins would have needed to put in the return package, either. Festa or Raya would be one half of the deal, with Minnesota potentially needing to add some combination of Louie Varland, Trevor Larnach, and/or Jose Miranda but it's hard to argue they'd have enough upside.

Trading for Burnes would have been the type of splashy addition we've been hoping for all winter, but it would have come at a cost perhaps too steep to stomach. Baltimore can feel good trading one of its six Top 100 prospects and other pieces, but the Twins upsetting the prospect apple cart without certian assurances feels a little too risky.

Yes Minnesota could have beaten the offer but it's probably best that they didn't.

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