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HomeBaseballIn Bummer Transfer, Braves Land Lefty Reliever for Pile of Ex-Prospects

In Bummer Transfer, Braves Land Lefty Reliever for Pile of Ex-Prospects

Aaron Bummer
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports activities

Late Thursday night time, after the ultimate horn had sounded on the final West Coast NHL recreation, new White Sox basic supervisor Chris Getz consummated his first commerce in his new position, sending sinker-balling lefty reliever Aaron Bummer to Atlanta for a five-player selection pack of “second division” gamers and reclamation initiatives. The brand new White Sox are headlined by 26-year-old 2019 All-Star righty Michael Soroka, 28-year-old infielder Nicky Lopez, and 25-year-old lefty starter Jared Shuster, all of whom might be fairly anticipated to impression the 2024 squad. Chicago additionally acquired 25-year-old infielder Braden Shewmake, who can be on the 40-man roster, and 2023 undrafted free agent starter Riley Gowens, who’s extra of a developmental undertaking from the College of Illinois.

Let’s discuss concerning the Braves’ finish of this commerce first. Most people studying this are most likely aware of Bummer, a well-established lefty reliever who has been a middle-inning stalwart for the Pale Hose for the final half-decade. His velocity took a leap in 2019, and his re-worked breaking ball helped him elevate his recreation once more in ’21. He’s coming off a season wherein he posted a 6.79 ERA and career-worst 13.5% stroll fee, however from a stuff standpoint, he kind of regarded like himself, and Chicago’s poor infield protection did him no favors. His fielding-independent statistics hovered round a way more respectable 3.50, constant together with his profession norms.

We are able to have a look at this commerce from a sure perspective and surprise why the Braves traded 5 gamers for a center reliever, not to mention one with an ERA close to seven and who has posted two consecutive seasons with fastball velocities under his 2019–21 peak. However if you’re the Braves and have few holes to fill, you’ll be able to pay a premium for a novel weapon, even when that weapon is prone to be deployed in medium-leverage center innings.

And Bummer is certainly particular in a couple of regards. Since he debuted in 2017, his 66% floor ball fee is second amongst all MLB pitchers who’ve labored at the least 250 innings throughout that span. He and Clay Holmes (66.7% GB%) are in a tier of their very own on the prime of that record, with lefty reliever T.J. McFarland (63%) a comparatively distant third. Bummer’s profession floor ball fee is outstanding though it was “solely” 58% in 2023, which is someway low for him regardless of being 16 factors greater than the MLB common. The sink and tail on the low-slot lefty’s fastball makes it extremely troublesome for hitters to raise; he has allowed a barrel fee under 3% in two of the final three seasons. That’s regardless of him permitting a reasonably excessive hard-hit fee (44% in 2023, in MLB’s eleventh percentile), which helps illustrate simply how troublesome it’s for hitters to get beneath his sinker. And whereas Bummer does get hit arduous, it’s barely ever in a approach that truly ends in harm.

With A.J. Minter already in place and Tyler Matzek scheduled to return from Tommy John, the left-handed contingent of Atlanta’s bullpen appears to be like to be fairly nasty. Bummer will make $5.5 million in 2024, after which Atlanta holds two membership choices, one for $7.25 million in ’25 and one for $7.5 million in ’26. If he continues to pitch as he has for the final a number of seasons, Atlanta will train these choices. It’s believable that he may but have one other gear, and that the Braves may have already got a tweak or two in thoughts that may assist intensify his expertise. They’ve demonstrated a extra constant potential to max out their gamers than the White Sox have, and just like the way in which it took tweaks by the Yankees to unlock Holmes’ potential, it’s truthful to surprise if there’s developmental meat on the bone right here that Atlanta can see from afar. He matches as a premium middle-inning “inheritor,” the reliever who usually inherits runners as a result of he’s the most certainly to get the bottom ball that produces a rally-killing double play.

Pretty much as good as Bummer is, it isn’t as if any particular person reliever might considerably alter the near-term fortunes of the White Sox, nor the long-term trajectory of the franchise. They want a big reshuffling and lots of assist, and so it’s a process-oriented win for them to flip a middle-inning man for a bunch of gamers who may contribute to a longer-term trigger. Did they decide the precise assortment of gamers? It’s not possible to know what their options had been or who might need been on the desk in different gives, however this return is certainly extra about role-playing depth than upside.

Probably the most-known participant coming to the South Aspect is Soroka. The Canadian righty was a giant time prospect who, at his age-21, 4-WAR peak, regarded like he is perhaps the second coming of Brandon Webb. Since then, the now–26-year-old has handled a myriad of extreme accidents, together with two Achilles ruptures that price him two whole seasons and shoulder irritation that ended his 2023 comeback marketing campaign. He has at all times been extra of a command-oriented innings-eater with good secondary stuff reasonably than a world-beating energy pitcher, and with the Braves in win-now mode, they’re not likely in place to let the option-less Soroka sink or swim on the large league degree as a part of their 2024 rotation, assuming he’s even wholesome. The White Sox, nonetheless, have a for much longer, lower-stakes runway to search out out if he might be wholesome and efficient as soon as once more. Even when he can’t, his repute as a hyper-competitive badass (I assure Soroka is aware of Mike Nikorak’s profession stats) may assist the brand new Sox regime construct a extra aggressive clubhouse tradition because the group navigates a couple of seasons of rebuild and transition.

If Soroka can keep wholesome, then he and all however one of many items coming again to Chicago are prone to put on a giant league uniform all through 2024. Lopez was squeezed out of Kansas Metropolis’s proficient younger infield and traded to the Braves final season to shore up their skinny center infield contingent however was relegated to seldom-used bench obligation throughout their playoff run. He’s simply the very best defensive infielder on Chicago’s roster and at this second must be penciled in because the starter at shortstop. His big 6-WAR 2021 season was largely pushed by an unsustainably excessive BABIP, and he has since settled in as a high-contact, slick-fielding utility man with bottom-of-the-scale pop. On a contender, he could be relegated to a job just like the one he performed in Atlanta, the place he was the group’s fifth infielder, able to filling in at any infield place, and used situationally on offense when the membership badly wanted a ball put in play. His versatility will permit the White Sox to maintain him within the lineup constantly and transfer him across the diamond so their younger group of Latin American infielders — Lenyn Sosa, Bryan Ramos and José Rodriguez chief amongst them — can get adequate large league reps and be well-evaluated forward of Colson Montgomery’s eventual arrival.

The White Sox additionally acquired two former Braves first spherical picks who made their large league debuts in 2023 in Shuster and Shewmake. There was a short interval a couple of years in the past when Shuster was throwing considerably more durable than he has of late, doubtless resulting from further relaxation and lighter workload created by the pandemic shutdown in his draft yr. For the final a number of seasons, he has been a changeup- and command-oriented lefty with well-below-average fastball velocity. Maybe as a result of he’s needed to nibble extra together with his weak fastball as he’s climbed to Triple-A and MLB, his stroll fee rose to a regarding 12% in 2023, a lot greater than his profession norm; his strikeout fee additionally dropped to a profession low. His slider utilization has surpassed his changeup utilization not as a result of it’s turn into his greatest pitch, however since you want a non-fastball option to get forward of hitters if you’re sitting 91 mph. Lefties with changeups nearly as good as Shuster’s screwball-style cambio and command on the extent that he has traditionally proven are inclined to have lengthy, productive MLB careers, and I believe it’s truthful to hope for a bounceback.

The opposite fascinating factor Shuster may carry is a form of institutional data that the White Sox might but lack. Wake Forest, his alma mater, is among the many most superior collegiate applications relating to utilizing knowledge and expertise to assist develop pitchers; the Braves additionally seem competent on this regard. Maybe he’ll carry a few of that with him in a approach that has a long-term impression on Chicago’s implementation of those ideas, which can be held up resulting from an absence of willingness to spend money on them on the possession degree reasonably than a lack of knowledge within the entrance workplace.

This was an fascinating buy-low alternative for the White Sox who, if Shuster can turn into the no. 4/5 starter I projected him to be as a prospect, will on his personal be a extra priceless piece to the subsequent good Sox group than even a particular center reliever like Bummer would have been. I believe the three gamers I’ve mentioned in depth up to now — Soroka, Lopez and Shuster — are the first return on this deal, a bit for annually of group management Bummer has remaining.

I’ve by no means been particularly excessive on Shewmake, who was drafted with the hopes that he’d add significant power and weight to his lanky body and stay at shortstop whereas maturing into significant energy. He’s essentially sound at quick, however I wouldn’t name him an impression defender there, and he’s remained skinny and hasn’t put collectively a formidable offensive season above Low-A. If something, I believe he clogs and clouds Chicago’s infield combine in an pointless approach. He’d have been a good upper-level depth possibility for Atlanta, which is as soon as once more very skinny on viable center infield defenders, however maybe the Braves worth the freed-up 40-man spot extra at this level.

Lastly, the White Sox acquired Gowens. The College of Illinois product missed his 2019 freshman yr and the little little bit of pre-shutdown 2020 due to an early-2019 Tommy John, which meant he was a draft-eligible redshirt freshman in 2021. Unselected in ’21 and ’22, he had just a little velo spike in ’23 and was sitting extra 92–94 and touching 96 than the pedestrian 90–92 he had proven in earlier seasons. His fastball additionally has uphill angle and bat-missing carry. The White Sox will probably be tasked with teasing a greater slider out of him, as his present 82–85-mph model is brief and lacks depth.

This transfer fills Chicago’s 40-man roster for the second and cleared a ton of area on Atlanta’s; the Braves now have three open spots. In some unspecified time in the future this offseason, they’ll want to handle the relative lack of viable center infielders within the org, however including Bummer helps fortify their already wonderful bullpen.



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