While the Houston Astros' offseason has quieted down following the Josh Hader signing, there's still a lot of work to do around the league before we can put a bow on free agency. There are several top Scott Boras clients available that could alter the landscape of playoff races considerably.
However, the latest move that's still sending ripples through the league was a trade made by the Orioles.
The worst kept secret in Baltimore this offseason was that the O's were in real need of starting pitching. While they have some promising young arms like Grayson Rodriguez, no one though the Orioles should go into 2024 with the rotation they had under contract. However, few expected the team to be as aggressive as they were when Baltimore traded for Corbin Burnes.
A chief rival in the American League adding a former Cy Young winner and one of the best pitchers in baseball isn't ideal for Houston to be sure. However, Burnes is at least not in the Astros' division, which is more than the Yankees can say as they're set to have their hands full trying to compete in the AL East. Houston can thank one of their former execs for that.
Former Astros GM Mike Elias is making life very difficult for the Yankees and we love it
When former Astros exec Mike Elias took over the Orioles before the 2019 season, he was coming off a very successful tenure in Houston's front office and moving to an Orioles organization in desperate need for help. Baltimore certainly had some talent in the minor leagues, but the big league roster was a disaster and the team really struggled as ownership refused to spend enough to help them truly contend.
All of that has changed since Elias took over. He was able to repeat his success with the Astros in building up the Orioles' base of young talent and then some, and now the Orioles have new ownership that could be more willing and able to spend again with the Burnes trade being just the beginning. For the Yankees, this is absolute nightmare fuel as the AL East is the toughest division in baseball and arguably the best team in it just added a frontline starter. That doesn't even account for the Blue Jays, who have a strong young core and could still make some moves, and the Rays, who always find a way to field a strong squad.
For the Astros, this is pretty bittersweet. In a perfect world, Elias would still be in Houston and helping the Astros sustain their success. However, it's a nice consolation prize to see the Yankees suffer at the hands of Elias and the team he was instrumental in building. One just hopes that when Burnes takes the mound against Houston, he isn't at the height of his powers.