In a piece earlier this week, I mentioned that there would likely be some small trades before today’s tender deadline, but I definitely did not expect this.
In all likelihood, Michael Soroka and Nicky Lopez were going to be non-tendered. Lopez, while valuable, was going to be paid $4MM as a backup infielder and while he would probably be worth it, it’s just not something that’s been AA’s M.O. I’ve said it several times before, but Soroka needed to be set free from the Braves org to actually get a real chance. This team is in a window that would never allow Soroka to find himself on the fly. After the season ending injury, the writing was on the wall for Soroka as 2024 would bring a year with no options and that’s just not a risk that was willing to take. The White Sox is a great landing spot where Soroka can get regular reps and prove or disprove his worth.
In a year where the SS free agent market is worse than I’ve ever seen, Lopez likely finds himself in a starting role where he can actually earn that $4MM with his defense alone.
Both Braden Shewmake and Jared Shuster had no future with this team. Shewmake, if he makes it to the majors, could have a career similar to Lopez, bouncing from team to team as a solid infield backup. Shuster, who was a former 1st round pick, did his best Kolby Allard impersonation, and the fastball that was supposedly hitting 96 when he got drafted, never showed up in the minors or majors. All 4 players get a new shot and, at the least, likely brings added motivation.
What a Bummer
At first glance, Braves fans are thinking “WTH, AA?” Aaron Bummer‘s 2023 was…well, a real bummer. In 61 games, he carried a 6.79 ERA. However, like Pierce Johnson in 2023, AA saw past the inflated ERA to the metrics that told the real story:
- FIP, 3.58
- xFIP, 3.51
- xERA, 3.53
Then there’s his Statcast Page…
Looks like Bummer had a bummer fielding team behind him. He also has the AA coveted club options for 2025 and 2026 at $7.25MM each year.
Who’s Up Next for a Bench Role?
Nicky Lopez is now a a White Sock, so who could be the internal options to fill his role? The easy answer is Vaughn Grissom, especially if the idea is to get players field rest. However, the Braves will carry some sort of emergency infielder and Luke Waddell makes a lot of sense. Between AA and AAA last year, Waddell played 2B, 3B, SS, and carried his own with the stick (.275/.384/.376) while playing 2B, 3B, and SS. I like his bat better than Nicky’s, especially when it comes at 15% of the cost.