Yankees manager Aaron Boone seemingly feels the same way many fans of the Bronx Bombers do after the Orioles acquired ace Corbin Burnes.
Speaking Saturday at Pinstripe Pride, an autograph signing in New Jersey’s American Dream mall, the Yankees skipper was upfront about his thoughts on Burnes and what it could mean for the American League East.
“That can be a little bit of a problem,” Boone said via The Athletic. “That was my first reaction. He’s obviously an amazing pitcher going to a great team. We’ll see a lot of him and look forward to competing against the best, though.”
The Orioles acquired Burnes from the Brewers on Thursday for pitcher DL Hall, shortstop Joey Ortiz and a Competitive Balance pick.
Baltimore, who won the AL East with 101 wins a year ago, cemented their competitive status by grabbing the best pitcher on the trade market while filling a hole they desperately needed.
The Orioles getting Burnes also puts the Yankees’ own offseason in question. After trading for Juan Soto, New York has been relatively quiet. They acquired Marcus Stroman along with depth pieces to fill the roster and minors.
Many believe the Yankees, who reportedly offered free-agent pitcher Blake Snell a contract he turned down this offseason, still need a reliable starter for 2024.
After AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, the Yankees have a lot of question marks in their rotation. Carlos Rodon is coming off an injury-plagued and down season while Nestor Cortes could not stay healthy.
Clarke Schmidt is an unknown in his second full season as a starter and even Stroman had his injury issues in 2023.
Despite that, Boone believes in his rotation and its ability to compete out of the gate. But he also recognized that it’s still early in the offseason to make any definitive statements on the Yankees rotation.
“With health, I think we’re going to be really good,” Boone said. “But it’s early February. We got a long way to go. I’m excited about some of the depth we’ve replenished and guys pushing up. I think there are going to be some people that surprise there. I’m really excited about some of the guys, like Carlos (Rodón) and Nestor (Cortes) coming off injury-riddled seasons. I’m excited about the winters those guys are having and where they’re at. Bringing in Marcus — we feel like (the rotation) has a chance to be really good, but we gotta go make it happen.”
Young hurlers like Luis Gil, Will Warren, Clayton Beeter and Chase Hampton could help the Yankees give them the depth to get through a 162-game season, but it’s no secret that the success of the rotation will largely be on the backs of their veterans.
But like Boone said, it’s only February. Things can change between now and when pitchers and catchers report (Feb. 15) and even when their first spring training game starts on Feb. 24.