Maple Maddux aka M-m-m-Mike Soroka, as my daughter affectionately calls him, was the Atlanta Braves ace of the 2019 season. Pitching to a 4 or 5.6 WAR, depending on your choice between B-ref or Fangraph’s evaluations, the 22 year old is the subject of todayâ€™s piece, Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Mike Soroka.
Mike Sorokaâ€™s Background
In a draft that yielded many fruits for the Atlanta Braves including names like Kolby Allard, Austin Riley, Lucas Herbert, A.J. Minter, Patrick Weigel, Evan Phillips, Kurt Hoekstra, and Jonathan Morales, the crowned jewel in the 2015 draft for the Braves came at number 28 in the form of a 17 year old Alberta, Canada native, RHP Mike Soroka.
At the time of the selection, many were surprised to see him go so high and suggested heâ€™d sign well under-slot. Itâ€™s easy to look back and suggest the statement to be foolish, but no one expected to see Soroka dominate out the gate at 17 and continue said dominance to force the Braves hand and debut him at the age of 20. While he wonâ€™t be seeing significant time in the minors barring unforeseen circumstances, Soroka simply dominated in his time there, carrying a 2.84 ERA in 370.2 innings across 5 levels, while completely skipping High-A. Meh…who needs High-A anyway?
The Case for Mike Soroka
Soroka made his debut on May 1, 2018, throwing 6 innings of 1-run baseball, striking out 5 and walking none. He made 2 more starts before going on the DL with a shoulder ailment (yup, it was still called “DL” at the time). He came back about a month later, then hit the DL again and was shut down for the rest of the 2018 season. Prior to spring training of 2019, shoulder troubles arose again and Soroka was shut down again. Soroka immediately debunked the rumor that this was similar to why he was shut down for 2018 and that this was merely fatigue from his offseason workouts. As Braves fans, we were skeptical, but it looks as though Soroka was being truthful as from April 18th on, he took the ball every 5th go around and finished the year with 174.2 innings of 2.68 ERA baseball. Put mildly, thatâ€™s bloody brilliant from a 21-22 year old pitching in a year where pop-ups were finding their way 15 rows deep in pitcherâ€™s parks. If the shoulder injury is truly behind him, itâ€™d be wise for the Braves to lock up Soroka during this window to anchor the rotation through his prime years.
The Contract Proposal for Mike Soroka
Soroka will not be arb-eligible until the 2021 season. However, he qualifies for Super-2 status which means he will go through arbitration 4 times, making him a free agent in 2025. If Soroka has a 2020 like he had in 2019, heâ€™s going to get a serious raise in his first year of arbitration, and I wouldnâ€™t bet against him. In my proposed deal, Iâ€™m going to buy out 2 of his free agent years in a 7 year deal.
Prior to the 2019 season, Blake Snell, coming off a Cy Young award, signed a 5 year 50 million dollar deal, buying out 1 year of his free agency. Although they go about it different ways, Soroka and Snell are comparable in value but Soroka comes with the added risk of injury (and lack of a Cy Young). Overall, the Braves will get a longer commitment, but at a value significantly greater should Soroka continue to produce.
The deal: 7/70MM.
- 1MM in 2020
- 5MM in 2021
- 8MM in 2022
- 10MM in 2023
- 14MM in 2024
- 16MM in 2025
- 16MM in 2026
At the end of the deal, Soroka would be 29 and, if pitching well, will be set up for that 1 last big contract thatâ€™ll take him to his mid-30s. Seems like a win-win for the Braves and the player.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the piece on Braves Extension Candidate Mike Soroka, check out his 2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review here.