Red Sox Predicted to Add Projected $260 Million Cy Young Winner

Red Sox potential 2025 free-agent target Corbin Burnes

Getty Red Sox potential 2025 free-agent target Corbin Burnes

There are few pitchers who have been as effective over the past four seasons as former Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes, who is now a Red Sox divisional foe with the Orioles. He has ranked in the Top 8 of Cy Young Award voting in each of the past four seasons, and won the award in 2021, when he led the league with a 2.43 ERA. He led the N.L. in strikeouts the following year, at 243, then led the senior circuit in WHIP at 1.069 last year.

The Red Sox figure to get more than one up-close view of Burnes throughout 2024, which could well be a good thing. It’s entirely possible, after all, that Burnes will be suiting up as the Red Sox’s ace in a year.

Yes, we’re on the eve of Opening Day 2024. But for a Red Sox team that figures to be middling, at best, with a few component parts worth monitoring for breakout years, It’s not too early to start thinking about 2025. And according to MassLive’s Red Sox insider Chris Cotillo, Burnes is a potential big-name future Red Sox No. 1.

Red Sox Could Finally Invest in a Star Pitcher

Speaking on the MassLive podcast, “Fenway Rundown,” with longtime Red Sox insider Sean McAdam, Cotillo put aside the Red Sox’s recent aversion to giving out long-term megadeals to pitchers and foresaw Boston shelling out to pry Burnes away from Baltimore.

“I think he is a guy that—I know it doesn’t seem like they ever will right now—but I think he is a guy the Red Sox could pay a lot of money for in a year,” Cotillo said. “I think we should start thinking about already. That market is weaker, Zack Wheeler (of the Phillies) is off the board, he is the guy I would have really wanted the Red Sox to get from my perspective.

“I just think (Burnes) is a guy who is going to get really, really well paid in about a year.”

Really well-paid, indeed. According to The Athletic’s Tim Britton, the price tag on the 29-year old Burnes will run eight years and $260 million. The payout is imposing, of course, but the length of that potential deal would likely scare off the Red Sox, given their aversion to lengthy pitching contracts.

At Spotrac, Burnes is also in line for a long contract, seven years at a lesser $166 million. The Red Sox could handle the payout but, again, the length might well be the issue.

Will the Pitching Market Hold Up for Corbin Burnes?

Of course, given the way this year’s free-agent market panned out, maybe there is a middle ground. Agent Scott Boras represents Burnes, and Burnes was very complimentary of Boras after he was dealt to Baltimore.

“You look at what he’s done for the starting pitching market, going back to the 80s. He’s been the driver of that market,” Burnes said. “Obviously in recent years he has had some big names in that market. For me, the way it was lining up, there just didn’t seem like a better place to be than with him.”

But Boras had some significant strikeouts this offseason, especially with reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and last year’s postseason hero, Jordan Montgomery. Neither got the long-term contract they were looking for—two years and $62 million for Snell, one year and $25 million for Montgomery—and while that is unlikely to deter Boras going forward, it could cause a tightening of the pitching market in general.

Either way, the Red Sox are still short of pitching going forward, with Brayan Bello and Kutter Crawford likely the only long-term answers in the current starting rotation. They need and ace, and Burnes figures to be one.

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