The Braves made a significant six-player trade just before the clock struck midnight on Thursday, acquiring veteran lefty reliever Aaron Bummer from the Chicago White Sox for Michael Soroka, Jared Shuster, Nicky Lopez, Braden Shewmake and Riley Gowens.
Bummer, 30, has some of the nastiest stuff from the left side in the majors. Command has been an issue — he walked 13.5 percent of batters faced in 2023 and has a career 11.1 percent walk rate — but his Statcast profile shows a 99th percentile barrel rate, 97th percentile ground ball rate, and 87th percentile whiff and strikeout rate. Despite the 6.79 ERA last season, his underlying 3.53 xERA, 3.58 FIP and 3.51 xFIP all indicate he was horribly unlucky. The Braves are clearly betting on his talent and a change of scenery after seven seasons in Chicago.
Bummer is signed for 2024 at $5.5 million. There are club options for 2025 and 2026 at $7.25 and $7.5 million, respectively.
The five pieces the Braves gave up will bring a lot of name recognition, but I’m not sure any of them had a role in Atlanta next season besides Lopez. The trade opens up three spots on the club’s 40-man roster, which stands at 37.
Michael Soroka will always be cheered for in Atlanta, but he was out of minor league options and was likely to be non-tendered on Friday given his extensive injury history. Michael will now have the opportunity to pitch every fifth day with the White Sox and hopefully regain the command that made him a special pitcher early in his career. Go get ‘em, kid.
Jared Shuster showed in a couple of brief stints this past season that he lacks the stuff to get big league hitters out with any kind of consistency. After three years in Double-A and Triple-A, it’s safe to say the Braves aren’t taking a risk in moving on from the 25-year-old lefty. The same can be echoed for Braden Shewmake, who will turn 26 next month and posted a .705 OPS in Gwinnett this past season.
The one surprise of the deal is Nicky Lopez, who is expected to earn $4 million in arbitration next season as the club’s primary backup infielder. Lopez is superb with the glove and runs the bases well, but he would rarely play in 2024 short of an injury to Albies or Arcia. Trading away Lopez does mean the club will need to add a utility infielder this winter.
More to come...