Late Monday night, the White Sox made a surprise move to deal left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer to the Atlanta Braves.
In exchange, Chicago received a whopping five players from Atlanta. The package is headlined by right-handed pitcher Michael Soroka, a former first-rounder, and second baseman Nicky Lopez. The return is rounded out by former first-round pitcher Jared Shuster, as well as pitcher Riley Gowens and shortstop Braden Shewmake.
Bummer, who has spent all seven years of his career with the White Sox, is coming off a rough but unlucky season in 2023. The 30-year-old posted a 6.79 ERA with a 3.58 FIP and just four home runs allowed in 58.1 innings pitched. His strikeout rate at 12.03 K/9 was the second-highest of his career, though his walk rate of 5.55 BB/9 was also the highest of his career.
Soroka, 26 years of age, broke out in 2019, going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA over 174.2 IP. His career was then derailed for three years by two Achilles injuries, before returning in 2023 for six starts before his season ended once more via forearm inflammation. He will be a hopeful bounce-back candidate for the White Sox to fill out their rotation.
Nicky Lopez, infamously from Naperville, Illinois, was traded to the Atlanta Braves last season after a rollercoaster ride with the Kansas City Royals for four years. Lopez brings consistently elite defense to the table but has struggled offensively outside of 2021. In 94 games last season, he sported a .231/.326/.307 slash line for 1.1 fWAR.
Shewmake (four plate appearances) and Shuster (eleven starts) each debuted in 2023 after mediocre runs in the minor leagues, to varying degrees of success. Gowens is a ninth-round pick from the 2023 draft.
This sort of move certainly signals that Chris Getz may not see a viable path toward competing in 2024 – most teams trade controllable relievers when they are not planning to compete. In doing so, the White Sox helped the Braves solve some of their 40-man roster crunch issues. It’s an interesting strategy deployed by Getz, opting for quantity over quality.
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