On Thursday night, the Dodgers lost out on a coveted ace in Corbin Burnes, who was shipped off from Milwaukee to Baltimore in exchange for two prospects and the 34th pick in the 2024 draft. It begs the question of what, exactly, made the Orioles' offer so enticing compared to trade packages the Dodgers undoubtedly ran by the Brewers, as the trade is already being reflected on as a clear win (subscription required) for the Orioles.
Maybe it was just timing. The Dodgers were interested in Burnes all the way back in late October, and perhaps the Brewers were in a different place with him, as initial talks presumably took place well before Burnes and the Brewers settled on a $15.6 million salary to avoid arbitration.
Well, the Dodgers have to press on. If the Brewers are now in a position where they're willing to give up players for so little in return, there are still some very enticing options in Milwaukee that they could target next. Willy Adames' name was thrown into the ring as a nice add-on to a potential Burnes trade, but there's another top tier arm in Milwaukee's bullpen that could fulfill a need for LA: Devin Williams.
Dodgers should pivot to Devin Williams, Willy Adames after Corbin Burnes trade to Orioles
Williams has been absolutely stellar for the Brewers for the last four seasons. He was won Rookie of the Year in 2020 after pitching 27 innings and closing one game for a boggling 0.33 ERA. The Brewers progressively started to lean on him more since then — he closed six, 21, and 49 games in the proceeding three post-pandemic seasons and maintained a sub-2.00 ERA during that time.
The Dodgers have been without that kind of consistent closer since Kenley Jansen left at the end of 2021. They did rely heavily on Evan Phillips, who also had a fantastic 2023 season with a 2.05 ERA and 36 games finished, but he's also been incredibly effective in eighth-inning scenarios. Getting Williams and moving Phillips earlier into games would take a lot of pressure off of Brusdar Graterol and Joe Kelly to carry the bullpen and further fortify the relief staff.
Adames has been a longtime want for LA, who do have Gavin Lux returning after a torn ACL, but will need to monitor him closely, as he didn't play at all in 2023. Adames' bat wobbled a bit in 2023, but he's an elite defensive shortstop and would be more than covered by the rest of LA's powerful lineup. His future with the Brewers seems a bit more nebulous than Williams', as Adames only has one year left before free agency and will presumably be replaced by Joey Ortiz, who came over in the Burnes trade and was the Orioles' No. 6 prospect last year.
There are still options in Milwaukee that the Dodgers absolutely need to do some further digging on. If trading Burnes marked the beginning of a Brewers fire sale, the Dodgers should be first in line.