Key offseason bullpen addition paying massive dividends so far for the Braves

After a rough start, Aaron Bummer has been excellent in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the players who he was traded for haven't fared well.

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

When Aaron Bummer allowed three runs in his first two outings for the Atlanta Braves, it looked like the reliever's luck from 2023 was carrying over. It also left a sour taste in some Braves fans' mouths after Alex Anthopoulos sent five players, including beloved pitcher Michael Soroka to acquire him.

However, since his first two games, the lefty reliever has been excellent for the Braves. Meanwhile, the performance of the players traded to the Chicago White Sox has further proved the Braves General Manager's savviness.

How has the Aaron Bummer trade worked out for the Braves?

After a rough final season with the White Sox, in which his ERA was 6.79, Bummer has been excellent for the Braves.

In 25.1 innings, the 30-year-old has allowed nine earned runs (3.20 ERA) and has struck out 25.9% of batters he's faced.

Bummer has done an excellent job limiting hard contact and keeping the ball on the ground. He still hasn't allowed a single barrel this season and has a 59.2% ground ball rate, which ranks in the 96th percentile according to Baseball Savant.

Bummer has been slightly unlucky as his xERA is 3.04 and his FIP is 2.51. On the season, he has a 0.4 fWAR, which rates better than 71% of relievers this year and is the highest among the Atlanta bullpen.

Clearly, the Braves have gotten plenty of value from Bummer but has it been worth trading five players to get him?

How has the Bummer trade worked out for the Chicago White Sox?

Currently, the Chicago White Sox are on pace to lose 119 games, which is one shy of the MLB record for losses since 1901. While that doesn't necessarily correlate to how well the trade has worked out for the White Sox, it's not completely unrelated.

While the Braves only received Aaron Bummer, the White Sox received Michael Soroka, Nicky Lopez, Braden Shewmake, Jared Shuster, and Riley Gowens.

A five-for-one trade isn't completely unheard of, but usually, those trades involve a star, not a middle reliever.

However, the trade allowed the Braves to move on from two players they were likely non-tendering, as well as two fringe players and a fringe prospect who didn't have a clear spot in the organization.

Have any of these five players made the Braves regretting moving on from them? Probably not.

Michael Soroka struggled in his nine starts, as he had a 6.39 ERA, allowed 10 homers, and walked as many batters as he struck out. In May, Chicago moved him to the bullpen, where he's had slightly more success.

In 17.1 innings as a reliever, Soroka has a 4.15 ERA and has significantly improved his strikeout rate, striking out 14.54 batters per nine innings. Walks unfortunately are still an issue, as he's walking 6.23 batters per nine. On the whole, Soroka has been worth -0.4 fWAR.

Nicky Lopez has been given the full-time starting role at second base, and while his defense has continued to be strong (2 OAA), his offense has been terrible. He's slashing .235/.288/.265 (61 wRC+), hasn't hit a homer and has only been successful on 28.6% of his stolen base chances. Even with great defense, he's been worth -0.2 fWAR.

Braden Shewmake spent the first month on the White Sox major league roster and was even worse than Lopez. In just 67 plate appearances, he amassed -0.7 fWAR thanks to a -13 wRC+ (.125/.134/.203 slash line) and -3 OAA on defense. Chicago sent him down on May 17 and he has been on the minor league injured list since June 2.

Surprisingly, after struggling mightily with Atlanta during his rookie year, Jared Shuster has been serviceable. In 28.1 innings, he has a 3.49 ERA (4.31 FIP) with a 0.1 fWAR. His lack of strikeouts (13.1% of batters) coupled with his abundance of walks (10.7%) indicates he's been getting slightly lucky, however.

Lastly, Riley Gowens has spent the year with the A+ level Winston-Salem Dash. The 24-year-old has a 4.40 ERA in 59.1 innings.

Overall, the White Sox have gotten -1.2 fWAR from the five players they acquired from Atlanta. Simply put, the trade has not worked out well for Chicago.

Despite the volume Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves sent to Chicago to get Aaron Bummer, it seems like the GM once again out-savvied the other team, as it allowed the team to move on from players they weren't planning on keeping while acquiring a key member of the 2024 Braves bullpen.

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