Former Braves All-Star enjoying new opportunity with White Sox

A Braves fan-favorite is back on the mound and embracing his opportunity in the Windy City.

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

When Michael Soroka broke onto the MLB scene at just 20 years of age, he immediately became an X-factor for the Atlanta Braves. He was one of Atlanta's most coveted pitching prospects at the time. During his first big league season in 2019, he earned an All-Star Game appearance by going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA. Soroka finished 6th in the National League Cy Young voting that season and 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting. After that, life happened. 

Soroka only appeared in three games during the shortened 2020 season before tearing his Achilles. He had multiple setbacks including a second Achilles injury and did not return to a Major League mound until 2023.

After posting a 6.40 ERA across 32.1 innings of work in 2023 and moving between Atlanta and Triple-A Gwinnett, the Braves made the difficult decision to part ways with Soroka. He was featured in a 5-player trade to acquire left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer.

We all wanted an incredible comeback story and for Soroka to succeed in a Braves uniform again. However, it just didn't happen and Atlanta had to take a chance and use Soroka to acquire a player to help bolster their bullpen. The best thing for both sides was to give him a fresh start elsewhere.

As mentioned above, Soroka was sent to the White Sox along with Jared Shuster, Nicky Lopez, Braden Shewmake, and Riley Gowens. Now that spring training is upon us, the former Braves All-Star is eager to make the most of this newly presented opportunity and is finally healthy. 

Soroka sat down recently with Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ($) and talked about how hard the trade was at first but also how the new opportunity has been good for him. Soroka stated, "There are some things I felt like were clicking at the end of last year that I was really coming into. They’re focused on helping me build on that and learn some new things. So far, it’s been a great atmosphere around here.”

Earlier in the interview he touched on how emotional of an experience it was at first. Soroka felt he still could be an impact starting pitcher but he was out of options and the Braves had a bigger need for a bullpen arm like Aaron Bummer. Despite the early difficulty, the move to Chicago is certainly a blessing in disguise for Soroka and I'm sure every Braves fan will be rooting for the Canadian hurler from afar.

He was a very exciting part of the Braves as they built back into a powerhouse organization and many fans had a big appreciation for the person and talent Soroka is. That is what made the decision to trade him so polarizing. A lot of people feel he is going to get back on track eventually but are also able to see why trading him was the correct decision for each side.

Alex Anthopoulos is a great GM for more than one reason. He is great at finding talented players who are a perfect fit for the clubhouse. However, he is also very good at making sure he can help players involved in trades, an opportunity to show what they can do. He genuinely cares about the players in the organization and tries to do right by them.

The right-hander echoed that sentiment stating, "I know a lot of guys hate hearing things through social media and other people. It was nice to have that conversation with him."

So far, Soroka has only made one appearance for Chicago over the first two weeks of Spring and that start was against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He completed 2 innings, allowing one earned run and striking out two batters. The only run allowed was a solo homer and other than that, there was no hard contact against him. 

Soroka knows how difficult it is to recover from the injuries he has faced and be successful at the Major League level. He continues to have an amazing perspective on his challenging career and is appreciative of the chance to be a part of a team that can afford patience with his journey back to starting for an MLB team.

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