“Messed up”? All right, I’ll bite.

Countering Brewers hurler Bryse Wilson’s weekend comment that the Orioles “messed up” by trading Joey Ortiz in a deal for Corbin Burnes — well, it doesn’t exactly take courage. It’s a pretty comfortable position, actually, especially after Burnes pitched seven tough innings against one of baseball’s most intimidating lineups to win a series with the NL-leading Phillies.

Literally, any day so far this season could be a great day to stand on the 29-year-old ace’s work. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any start this year, he’s pitched 22 more innings than any other Oriole, and he’s hovering right around his career best in ERA (2.14). Given the second, third, fourth, fifth chance to change history, I’m pressing that trade button every time.

But even though it’s perplexing that Wilson would imply Milwaukee is better off without their best pitcher for the previous four seasons — and even though if I were Burnes, I would be steamed hearing that from a former teammate — the comment that the Orioles “messed up” in the trade this offseason isn’t really about Burnes, is it?

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It’s about talent management, a unique problem for Baltimore and its overflowing coffers. If the Orioles loaded all their prospects into a ship, the keel would be dragging against the bottom of the Inner Harbor. Sooner or later, they had to toss a few gems overboard, so Ortiz was chosen to head to Milwaukee.

In Wilson’s defense, Ortiz is having a great season. For the NL Central-leading Brewers, he’s totaled 2.0 WAR, batting .282 with an .838 OPS. He’s one of the best fielding third basemen in the NL, and his on-base percentage (.383) is among the best in the NL as well. He’s been good, one of the best rookies in the MLB.

Which Oriole would you have him leap?

Not Gunnar Henderson, the shortstop who is in the MVP conversation. Probably not Jordan Westburg, just outside of the All-Star voting field despite switching between third and second throughout the season (his OBP is lower but his slugging is higher, thanks to 11 home runs on the year, and according to Baseball Savant, he’s much better in barrel percentage and exit velocity). Jackson Holliday had some setbacks this year, but he still looks an awful lot like a future meal ticket at just 20 years old.

The Orioles didn’t “mess up” with Ortiz. They did right by him.

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He was a promising infielder who didn’t have a spot to crack as an everyday player in infield. Because Holliday has struggled, maybe some want to do revisionist history, but this spring, he looked ready for prime time. Also, he is 20. There was no regular role for Ortiz last season, and in 2024, the prospective window looked even tighter for the 25-year-old. But still he was a good soldier, playing the small role he was given.

The Orioles rewarded Ortiz by sending him to a good situation for him to play. As many people, including GM Mike Elias, have observed about the trade: It was a win-win. The Orioles may have given up a good player, but the team still got better by adding Burnes.

Wilson’s description of Ortiz as a “generational player” is … well, it’s doing a lot of work. Maybe he’s a generational player in Milwaukee, whose third basemen only batted .247 last season. Maybe the pitching of the NL Central helps Ortiz’s numbers a bit by comparison to his Baltimore peers, if you consider that the Orioles play in the same division as two teams among the MLB’s top 6 in ERA.

Here in Baltimore, the Orioles are rolling in young talent. Inevitably, they have to trade some out for positions of need, starter being the most important, especially given their dicey injury situation (which was already precarious in February, due to Kyle Bradish’s UCL strain.) Burnes’ contract situation notwithstanding (he’ll be a free agent after this year), he’s essential to any hope of postseason success Baltimore has this year.

Maybe the Brewers needed Ortiz more than Burnes (although I’d argue Burnes has been a hell of a player this year). But the Orioles have always needed Burnes a lot more than they need Ortiz. It’s a notion that most of us were fine considering quietly, until Wilson had to go and say something out loud.

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Maybe Ortiz can keep improving, and show he’s appreciably better than at least one of the players the Orioles considered in front of him in the queue. But odds are he won’t produce more than each of them, especially with Henderson’s rocket-like ascension to superstardom this season. Westburg might be better than Ortiz right now. Holliday isn’t in the big leagues, but it’s foolish to dismiss the potential he’s flashed so far in the face of Ortiz’s promising 2024 start. Today’s good isn’t necessarily better than tomorrow’s great.

Ultimately, Orioles fans should actually be happy for Ortiz, a player who represents the continuing success of a farm system that churns out more prospects than they can play at the same time. As Jon Meoli wrote when Ortiz and DL Hall (who is unfortunately still on the mend from an IL stint) came back to town, it’s a feeling that we’ll have to get used to. Unless the Orioles and Brewers play head-to-head, Ortiz’s success story is still a Baltimore development success story.

If I were in Wilson’s shoes, maybe I’d remember the polite thing to say is “thank you.” Or, maybe even better: saying nothing at all.