The NL Central is there for the Chicago Cubs taking after blockbuster Brewers' trade

Discover how the trade between the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles has impacted the NL Central race and the Cubs' chances of winning the division.

Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One
Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

In the blockbuster deal that made the National League Central all the more ripe for the taking, the Milwaukee Brewers decided to trade away their ace, Corbin Burnes, to the Baltimore Orioles. In return, the Brewers received DL Hall and Joey Ortiz. Both players have an upside, but the fact that Milwaukee couldn't even get one of Baltimore's top 5 prospects is a fleece job by the Orioles front office.

Hall recorded a 4.22 ERA in Triple-A last season, where he spent most of the year. He did record a 3.26 ERA in the 19.1 inning stint in the majors, and his ZiPS project him for a decent 4.01 ERA in 2024. Joey Ortiz is an infielder who has earned top-100 status as a potential elite contact hitter but has lacked the necessary pop to be a heart-of-the-order bat. In 453 ABs in Triple-A, Ortiz has slashed .327/.383/.521, including batting .321 in 2023, only hitting nine home runs. He should slot in as the Brewers #5 prospect, as he is not the 5th and final top 100 prospect of the Brewers organization.

On the other hand, Baltimore still has a fantastic farm after not losing any of its top 5 prospects and is now more ready than ever to build on last season when they won 100 games.

Two things crossed my mind when I heard that Corbin Burnes was potentially being traded to Baltimore. The NL Central is winnable for the Chicago Cubs, especially if they add another bat this year. Two, the Brewers farm is also getting more robust as well. My speculation brewed (no pun intended) that Milwaukee was trying to strengthen their farm when they signed Rhys Hoskins, thinking they could more than likely flip him at the trade deadline if he plays well.

That now seems all the more likely after Milwaukee lost their ace. Although the Brewers did strengthen their farm somewhat, the trade lacked the elite prospect I thought it should have contained, and therefore, I'm not as worried as I thought. The Cubs farm, however, may be the clear-cut best in MLB now, even with Baltimore retaining their top 5 in the trade. It's hard to say, but if I had to put it this way, I'd give the Cubs the best in the NL and Baltimore the best in the AL.

This, in the end, is just more fuel for Jed Hoyer to make a move to catapult the Cubs to the top of the projected standings this winter. Adding in Cody Bellinger or Matt Chapman should give the Cubs the best on-paper lineup, and after Shota Imanaga boosted the team's rotation, the postseason is now within reach for the Cubs.

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