As Thursday rolled into Friday, the Atlanta Braves pulled off the first significant trade of the offseason by picking up left-hand reliever Aaron Bummer for a five-player package as the Braves look to reinforce the bullpen heading into the 2024 season.
Heading to the Southside in exchange for the 30-year-old Bummer are right-hander Michael Soroka, lefty Jared Shuster, shortstop Braden Shewmake, infielder Nicky Lopez and right-hander Riley Gowens.
Despite an already deep bullpen, Atlanta is hoping for a return to form from Bummer. With a 3.03 ERA in 213.2 innings over the first six years of his career, Bummer logged 78 strikeouts in 58.1 innings while producing groundballs 58.2% of the time with a 6.79 ERA this past season.
Bummer comes to Atlanta on a deal that will pay him $5.5 million this upcoming season and includes team options for $7.25 million in 2025 and $7.5 million in 2026. The deal looks to add some much needed consistency to a bullpen that includes left-hander A.J. Minter and a pair of right-handers who have signed extensions with the Braves: Joe Jimenez (three years, $26 million) and Pierce Johnson (two years, $14.25 million).
Looking to rebuild the roster, Soroka is the key piece in the first trade by new White Sox general manager Chris Getz. A former first-round draft pick in 2015 and NL Rookie of the Year runner-up, the 26-year-old Soroka has torn his right Achilles tendon twice and dealt with forearm tightness after making his return to the lineup last year before being shut down for the season.
Due to hit free agency after the 2024 season, Soroka – a former All-Star in 2019 – was expected to be let go by Atlanta by Friday’s nontender deadline.
The 25-year-old Shuster, a first-round pick in 2020, made his debut last season with 11 starts and a 5.81 ERA. He struck out 30 batters over 52.2 innings but walked 26 and allowed seven homeruns.
Another first-round pick in 2019, Shewmake went hitless in four at-bats this season. He looks to compete with Lopez for the shortstop job on a retooled White Sox roster. Lopez is a former Gold Glove finalist who the Braves acquired from Kansas City at the trade deadline last season.
The 24-year-old Gowens is the one player in the deal who lacks big league experience. Coming out of Illinois as a ninth-round draft pick, he posted a 1.15 ERA over 15.2 innings between rookie ball and Low-A with 22 strikeouts and six walks.