Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Mike Soroka

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 today’s piece, Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Mike Soroka.

Mike Soroka’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 he’d sign well under-slot. It’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 won’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, that’s bloody brilliant from a 21-22 year old pitching in a year where pop-ups were finding their way 15 rows deep in pitcher’s parks. If the shoulder injury is truly behind him, it’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, he’s going to get a serious raise in his first year of arbitration, and I wouldn’t bet against him. In my proposed deal, I’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 that’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.

Long live Braves Journal!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

13 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Mike Soroka”

  1. I’ve come to realize, if I were ever a MLB GM, I’d be so much more aggressive locking up my position players than I would my pitchers. Pitchers just scare me a bit, and this is a nice example in a way. Great talent, and a really fair proposal here probably. As good as Sork’s been, his track record isn’t that lengthy though. The shoulder would also be a small concern for me until he puts another injury free season under him. That’s not a huge thing however.

    If it were my call, I’d wait one more year on this. I wouldn’t bash it if the Braves did this though.

  2. Teheran signed 6/$32.4M after his rookie campaign. I don’t think you get Soroka to sign that.

    I think 7/$70M might be on the high end for the Braves if we look at the extensions that Acuna and Albies signed. I’d go somewhere in the middle, maybe 6/$54M.

    If Soroka blows his arm out, he gets financial security for life. If he becomes a perennial ace, the Braves have him at a good price, and he’ll hit free agency at 29 and have a shot for a major payday. Win-win-win.

  3. @3 not sure the Braves would do a 6 year deal, they’d only be buying out one year of FA and then guaranteeing him all that money. 4 years of arbitration could cost similar to those 4 years on the contract so why guarantee it up front for just one extra year.

  4. I wish long term guaranteed contracts to pitchers still made sense. I actually feel bad for baseball that it can’t keep any good starting pitchers healthy.

  5. I’d rather take the risk on a homegrown regular than giving out 20MM per year on someone that may or may not slot into the top 1/2 of the rotation by the time the contract ends. For me…I’m betting on the guys under 30 and I’d do this deal tomorrow.

  6. It was kind of buried out there on Twitter, but the skiing event at SunTrust Park screwed up the playing surface and a couple collegiate games in March have been moved to Coolray Field in Gwinnett.

  7. wow that’s notable, I wonder if it’ll have an effect on the regular season or if they’re just being cautious

  8. It seems to me that with a new CBA looming, whichever side expects changes to be to their favor will be less open to signing an extension now. So if you want to guess what it will take to get a deal done, you gotta figure out which side will need the most convincing to overcome that uncertainty.

  9. Long term contracts are the devil’s invention.

    Imagine if all of us guys had entered into such with our wives. Our first wives. And they with us.

    My divorce attorney assures me all hell would break loose.

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