The Atlanta Braves have some decisions to make prior to Friday's non-tender deadline. MLB Trade Rumors has provided their list of Braves players who might be non-tender candidates this week. One of the most conspicuous names is Michael Soroka.
When is the MLB non-tender deadline?
The MLB non-tender deadline is Friday, November 17th at 7 PM EST.
Why the Braves should keep Michael Soroka
MLB Trade Rumors projects Soroka to earn around $3 million in arbitration this year. While he hasn't been a productive pitcher for the Braves since 2019, he showed far too much promise in Triple-A to cut him loose.
Michael Soroka logged valuable innings in 2023 after 3-year absence
Soroka battled to return from two Achilles tears over the past few years. The fact that Soroka pitched 119.1 innings in 2023 between Triple-A and MLB is a huge win for the former ace. Considering he had not pitched competitively in about three years, just logging over 100 innings of work was a huge step in the right direction.
Michael Soroka's Velocity Increased in 2023
After just the first week of the 2023 season, Soroka's numbers had us wondering if he would return as a strikeout pitcher.
The last we saw of Michael Soroka in 2020, his two-seamer averaged 91.4 mph. In 2023, his sinker averaged 92.4 mph, a full mile-per-hour faster.
In 2020, his slider clocked in at 81.3 mph. In 2023 it sped up to 83.1 mph.
Likewise, his changeup increased 1.7 mph from 80.3 mph in 2020 to 82.0 mph this past season.
Michael Soroka's 2023 Minor League numbers were excellent
Soroka was solid for Triple-A Gwinnett last season even though the primary goal was to build the arm back up. Obviously, we all wanted Soroka to morph back into the guy from 2019 magically but in reality, he needed time and work. He was so good in Triple-A that he earned a few big-league call-ups.
Soroka finished with a 3.41 ERA over 17 starts. He logged 87.0 innings and struck out 9.5 hitters per nine. He kept runners off the basepaths with a 1.069 WHIP and just 2.9 walks per nine in Triple-A.
Michael Soroka even won the International League Pitcher of the Month Award in August.
The Braves intend to increase payroll in 2024
It has been reported that Alex Anthopoulos will have a larger payroll to work with in 2024. $3 million for a pitcher with the upside of Soroka is a small price to pay. Last year was full of too many positive signs and steps in the right direction for the Braves to let Soroka lose over what amounts to a small amount of money. Soroka made $2.8 million in 2023. He's not due for a big raise here.
Soroka will only be 26 in the 2024 season. If the Braves were to follow the advice of MLB Trade Rumors and non-tender the Big Maple, then rest assured other teams would pounce on the opportunity to add Soroka to their rotation.
Soroka is close and the Braves need pitching in 2024
Soroka may just be one step away from re-establishing himself as a consistent contributor to a Major League rotation. It wouldn't make any sense for the Braves to part ways with him now unless they know enough to believe he will never return to a serviceable form. That's an odd position to take on a 25-year-old pitcher who just posted a 3.41 ERA in Triple-A and won Pitcher of the Month in the final month of the season.
The Braves main priority this offseason is starting pitching. Adding one or two big names is not enough. Atlanta used 16 different guys as starters last season and struggled to find consistency outside of Morton, Strider, and Fried (when healthy). Last year (like most years) was an example of how you can never have enough starting pitching.