Did the Braves Make a Mistake by Trading This Fan Favorite?

Did the Braves Make a Mistake by Trading This Fan Favorite?

The Atlanta Braves made a massive trade this offseason and some fans are lamenting one of the departures.


MAR 17, 2024 10:47 AM EDT

The Atlanta Braves made a lot of trades this winter, and that’s typically an area in which president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t get things wrong.

But some fans are asking if he made a mistake this winter.

The team traded a five-player package to the Chicago White Sox to get reliever Aaron Bummer last November, and one of the players that left was righty Michael Soroka…who’s been pretty impressive in spring training so far.

Our own Jake Mastroianni, host of the Locked on Braves podcast, was asked in a recent mailbag episode if the trade of Soroka was a mistake by the Braves front office.

Jake’s answer was, essentially, no, for a few reasons.

The first is that despite Soroka’s stellar spring results – a 2.00 ERA in three spring starts, with twelve strikeouts to four walks in nine innings – we still don’t know if he’s back to prime “Maple Maddux” form. As Jake so eloquently put it, “we should put all spring training stats and numbers with a huge grain of salt.”

And Jake’s right – spring training statistics aren’t as predictive as we’d like them to be, except maybe on the outliers. What’s more important, for a pitcher, at least, is the actual things he’s doing: pitch velocities, pitch movement, if he has new additions or tweaks to his arsenal, etc.

And while the anecdotal results look good from Soroka – here’s a great video from Pitching Ninja of two strikeouts from the other day – we don’t have any Statcast data available for Soroka to know if he’s actually doing anything differently or how his pitcher are grading from a Stuff+ perspective.

The second reason, another one which Jake alludes to, is the roster flexibility that Soroka lacks at this point in his career. Having spent almost three full seasons on the injured list after his 2020 Achilles tear and subsequent re-rupture, Soroka’s out of minor league options, a fact that Jake discusses makes it tough to carry the righthander on the major league roster all season:

“If he wasn’t going to be in the (Opening Day) rotation, and there was no guarantee of that, they would have to DFA him and could possibly lose him through waivers.”

The Braves were essentially faced with a decision this November: tender him a contract, with the realization that he either makes the Opening Day roster as the 5th starter or gets claimed on waivers, or trade him and get something for him.

The Braves chose to trade him as part of the return for Bummer, a move that Jake argues was the best to make for both Atlanta and Soroka:

“As much as I wanted him to succeed with the Braves, it was the best thing for him. To be able to go somewhere, get a fresh start in a place where there’s not a lot of pressure to win now so you can roll him out there every fifth day. Let him work through some things, and hopefully he gets it back together.”

And if Soroka does return to the form we all want him to do? Jake closes with what we’re all thinking about already:

“If he does, hopefully, trade for him. Because I’d love to have him back here and him be a big part of this rotation again.”

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