SAD: Braves Shinning Star is finally leaving…

Atlanta Braves trade five player package for reliever Aaron Bummer from Chicago White Sox.

Aaron Bummer (@aaronbummer) / X

The Braves sent several of their non-tender candidates to the White Sox for a lefty reliever.

While you were sleeping, the Atlanta Braves announced a five player trade package going to the Chicago White Sox in a trade, getting lefty reliever Aaron Bummer in return.

Bummer, 30, struggled from a conventional stats perspective with a 6.79 ERA, but dealt with poor luck and had underlying peripherals that were significantly better than his final results.

His Fielding Independent Pitching – in essence, ERA reduced to only what a pitcher can actually control, like walks, home runs, strikeouts, and hit-by-pitch, was 3.58. He struckout twelve batters per nine innings, and excelled at preventing hard contact (2.7% barrel rate, 99th percentile) thanks to an elite 60.1% groundball rate.

He signed a five year, $16M contract extension in February of 2020, and will make $5.5M in 2024, the final season of that deal. Atlanta holds two club options for Bummer, $7.25M in 2025 and $7.5M in 2026, with a $1.25M buyout in 2025 and a $1M buyout in 2026.

(There’s also an escalator in the award that can raise Bummer’s salary as high as $10M in 2026 if he wins AL Reliever of the Year, per Spotrac – it’s unknown if that escalator is tied specifically to the American League award or just the Reliever of the Year award in general)

The acquisition of Bummer now gives Atlanta four lefties in their bullpen, with AJ Minter and Dylan Lee being joined by Bummer and 2021 postseason hero Tyler Matzek, returning from Tommy John surgery.

The package leaving Atlanta is full of players that ran the risk of being non-tendered by Friday’s deadline, with major leaguers Michael Soroka, Jared Shuster, and Nicky Lopez joined by prospects Braden Shewmake and Riley Gowens.

Soroka was a potential non-tender candidate not because of his estimated salary in his final year of arbitration ($2M) but his lack of minor league options remaining. Being at five full years of service time and with no options, he could refuse any assignment to the minor leagues and opt for free agency instead. If he didn’t stick in the rotation early in the season, he’d be departing for essentially no compensation at all.

Lopez was another non-tender candidate due solely to money – he was projected to make over $4M in arbitration this winter, and while he’s a great defender who fit in well in Atlanta, a backup infielder at that price is an expensive luxury for a team that plays the majority of their position players every single day. It does increase the need to sign a utility infielder this winter, however.

Jared Shuster being part of the deal (along with the non 40-man protection of outfielder Jesse Franklin V on Tuesday) officially closes the book on Atlanta’s 2020 Draft. Shuster came on strong in spring training last season, being one of the final candidates for Atlanta’s fifth rotation spot, but the lefty went only 4-3 with a 5.81 ERA in his 11 MLB starts in 2023 and didn’t seem to be in the team’s plans for 2024.

Prospects Braden Shewmake and Riley Gowens were also moves to Chicago as part of the deal. Shewmake was Atlanta’s 1st-round pick in 2019 and has been stuck in AAA for most of the last few seasons. Gowens was a ninth-round pick in this most recent draft, having pitched 15.2 innings combined between rookie ball and Single-A Augusta with a 1.15 ERA and 22 strikeouts.

The trade means that Atlanta’s 40-man roster now stands at only 37, giving Atlanta room to add some players in free agency.

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