This is supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Milwaukee Brewers (41-29), or at minimum a gap year. Fans were optimistic about the future, but it felt unlikely for this club to hold a six and a half game divisional lead at any point in 2024 after losing a big chunk of its identity in the offseason.

Although the general manager-skipper duo of David Stearns and Craig Counsell undeniably played a sizable role in the franchise's frequent playoff trips, those positions can be effectively replaced if an owner is looking in the right places. Cy Young winners, on the other hand, do not just fall in the grasp of a small-market club.

Trading Corbin Burnes to the Baltimore Orioles (46-24) in February addressed the Brewers' long-term needs, but it should have quieted any realistic notion of them snagging the 2024 NL Central crown. He was their anchor and one of the best pitchers in baseball for five years. Milwaukee is not surviving, though. It is thriving in Burnes' absence.

And one of the prospects the Brew Crew acquired in exchange for the 29-year-old righty is a key reason why.

Did the Orioles really make a mistake?

Rookie Joey Ortiz, who blasted a three-run home run to lift his team to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, is dazzling Brewers fans with his stellar contact skills, impressive plate discipline and stalwart defense at third base.

The early returns are not just galvanizing the city, they are inspiring bold takes from his teammate.

“I think the Orioles messed up,” right-handed pitcher Bryse Wilson said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Curt Hogg, after throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Reds. “Obviously they get Corbin, but that’s a generational player right there. He hits, he plays elite defense.”

While it is typically unwise to overreact to in-house bias, Wilson is voluntarily opening the door for some loud reactions and potential reposts on social media down the road. Ortiz might prove to be a generational talent (hitting .281 with six home runs and 27 RBIs), but Corbin Burnes is arguably already on that level.

It should be noted that Snoop Dogg was in attendance at American Family Field, so perhaps there was a hint of something in the air that indirectly influenced Wilson during his media session.

Corbin Burnes has seamlessly transitioned from Brewers to Orioles

In addition to being crowned the top NL hurler in 2021, Burnes also led the league in strikeouts in 2022 and earned three All-Star Game selections during his time in Milwaukee. Aside from a rocky 2019, Burnes excelled. He is doing the same in Baltimore, posting a 2.08 ERA (third in MLB) and holding opponents to a stingy .204 batting average.

With American league MVP candidate Gunnar Henderson and former first-round pick Jordan Westburg occupying regular roles in the infield, and No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday expected to rejoin them in the future, there was little room for Joey Ortiz on the O's.

Besides obviously supplying the MLB roster, the purpose of amassing an elite farm system is to acquire ready-made stars who can help a franchise compete for championships. Judging by the plethora of injury problems the Orioles are currently weathering in their pitching staff, it appears general manager Mike Elias smartly invested in an ace. This could just be an instance where everyone wins.

Though, Baltimore will either have to reach the World Series or sign Corbin Burnes to a contract extension in order to be completely comfortable with their decision. Because if new owner David Rubenstein does not close the deal, fans' excitement for the future is going to be slightly hindered by a growing feeling of uneasiness and familiarity.

Similarly, the Brewers will have to figure out how to capitalize on their infusion of promise and soar to heights they have not quite been able to reach in recent years. In any case, it is good to see the support Ortiz is receiving from the Milwaukee clubhouse, which ideally will be his home for a long time.