The Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox made a deal late on November 16, one that involved six players and highlighted by two pitchers. Here’s our analysis of the Aaron Bummer-Mike Soroka trade and what to make of the deal.
A Look at the Braves’ Return
- LHP Aaron Bummer (6.79 ERA, 78 K over 58.1 IP)
Bummer burst onto the scene as an MLB reliever in 2017 but had his best season in 2019. The 30-year-old continued to be an effective reliever in 2021-22 but 2023 was a different story.
The ex-White Sox owned a career-worst 6.79 ERA over 58.1 IP. However, the underlying numbers told a different story.
Bummer continued to excel at missing bats, as demonstrated by his 78 strikeouts (12.0 K/9) and 32.0% Whiff% rate.
The former Nebraska star has always had problems with command and throwing competitive pitches at times. That’s virtually been a constant with Bummer. But at the same token, the 30-year-old throws effectively from a low arm slot, has a very good sweeper with biting action, and nets ground balls with the sinker.
The addition of Bummer gives the Braves another arm for the bullpen. The Braves already re-signed Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez earlier in the offseason but sent Nick Anderson to the Royals on November 17.
A Look at the White Sox’s Return
- INF Nicky Lopez (.231/.326/.307 with 1 HR over 262 PA in 2023)
- INF Braden Shewmake (.000/.000/.000 over 4 PA in 2023)
- LHP Jared Shuster (5.81 ERA, 30 K over 52.2 IP)
- RHP Riley Gowens (Minor Leaguer) (1.15 ERA, 22 K over 15.2 IP in 2023 (A+))
- RHP Michael Soroka (6.40 ERA, 29 K over 32.1 IP)
The highlight of this trade for the White Sox was Mike Soroka, a 2019 NL All-Star who finished sixth in the 2019 NL Cy Young Award voting in his rookie season.
That 2019 campaign was an incredible one for Soroka, as he won 13 games and pitched to a 2.68 ERA over 174.2 IP. However, a number of major injuries prevented Soroka from making it back to the Majors until 2023.
Soroka, however, didn’t have tremendous success. The 26-year-old struggled with command and gave up more opportunities to opposing hitters. Soroka owned a 6.40 ERA and gave up nine home runs in just 32.1 IP with Atlanta, a far cry from the 14 homers he gave up in his rookie campaign.
Still, there’s a lot to like with the 26-year-old. Back in 2019, baseball fans got acclimated with a poised starter who could pound right-handers in with a sinker to get grounders and keep hitters guessing with both the changeup and slider.
It might sound odd that the Braves gave up on Soroka. But in reality, Atlanta only had him under control for one more season before he could test free agency.
The other two notable pieces here, aside from infielder Nicky Lopez and 2023 ninth-round pick Riley Gowens, were Jared Shuster and Braden Shewmake.
Shuster’s a former first-round pick himself and got his first taste of the Majors in 2023. However, it didn’t go well. The left-hander gave up way too much hard contact and averaged almost half a walk an inning.
The 25-year-old has three primary pitches, a fastball that tops out in the low-90’s, a good slider, and a changeup he uses almost exclusively against righties.
Shewmake is a glove-first shortstop with fringe-average power and average contact. This past season with Gwinnett (AAA), Shewmake hit .234/.298/.407 (.705 OPS) with 16 home runs and 27 stolen bases.
On the surface, the Aaron Bummer-Mike Soroka trade deal does look strange. Atlanta picked up a left-hander reliever with spotty command but very good stuff for two former first-round picks, a right-hander that was one of MLB’s best just four years ago, and two other pieces.
However, the Braves do get a number of benefits from the Aaron Bummer trade. For one, Atlanta netted three additional 40-man roster spots in the deal. But more importantly, the Braves also moved Lopez and Soroka, two arbitration-eligible players, and likely cleared some salary for the luxury tax.
Meanwhile, the White Sox obtained a couple of interesting pieces. Both Soroka and Shuster get fresh starts and should get more rope with a Chicago team in transition. The same could be said for Shewmake, who didn’t have a clear role in Atlanta with Orlando Arcia but may get more time with Tim Anderson out of Chicago.