The Chicago White Sox need starting pitching and depth in the middle of the field this offseason.
They made a dent in both departments Thursday night in a six-player trade with the Atlanta Braves.
The Sox sent veteran reliever Aaron Bummer to the Braves for right-handed pitcher Mike Soroka, left-hander Jared Shuster, infielders Nicky Lopez and Braden Shewmake and minor league right-hander Riley Gowens.
“(Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos) put something on the table that I thought was a step forward toward where we needed to go – acquiring starting pitching and improving our defense.” , Sox general manager Chris Getz said Friday. video conference call.
“This now allows us to open up some things as far as acquiring free agents or future contracts. A lot of that is at the mercy of other clubs and the urgency of some of these free agents and when they want to sign. I think this is a fundamental step for us.
This is the first major transaction since Getz became general manager in late August.
“It was an opportunity to really help us in a few different areas and prepare us for more opportunities this offseason,” he said.
In Soroka and Shuster, the Sox are signing starters with big league experience.
“I’m pretty confident that one or both will be in our rotation, but we want to create a competitive environment,” Getz said. “We’re going to be acquiring more pitchers and we have some younger pitchers in our system that will be growing here shortly.”
Soroka, 26, is 2-2 with a 6.40 ERA and 29 strikeouts in seven games (six starts) with the Braves. He spent most of 2023 with Triple-A Gwinnett, going 4-4 with a 3.41 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 17 starts.
He made the National League All-Star team in 2019 and finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting after going 13-4 with a 2 ERA, 68 and 142 strikeouts in 29 starts.
Soroka is 17-8 in his career with a 3.32 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 44 games (43 starts) over four seasons with the Braves. He suffered a torn right Achilles tendon on August 3, 2020 and recovered in June 2021. 2023 was his first return to action since 2020.
“Navigating a season like that after being out, it can definitely be tricky,” Getz said. “But having that under his belt, learning where his body is now. I think there are advantages there.
Shuster, 25, went 4-3 with a 5.81 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 11 starts with the Braves and 5-6 with a 5.58 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 16 starts with Gwinnett in 2023.
“(The Braves) had a pretty strong rotation last year, and he was often the insurance policy of a championship-type club,” Getz said. “So there might be more opportunities for him here.”
Lopez, 29, had a combined slash line of .231/.326/.307 with eight doubles, three triples, one home run, 25 RBIs, 26 walks and 32 runs in 94 games for the Kansas Royals City and the Braves in 2023. He committed just two errors in 277 opportunities.
The Naperville Central graduate has a career slash line of .249/.312/.319 with 71 doubles, six home runs, 131 RBIs, 220 runs and 42 stolen bases in 546 games over five seasons with the Royals (2019 -23) and the Braves. (2023).
“Defensively, he has a solid reputation,” Getz said. “He can play shortstop, he can play second base, he can play third base.
“Nicky can definitely improve the defense, and that’s definitely something we set out to do.”
Shewmake, 26, spent most of 2023 with Gwinnett, hitting .234 with 28 doubles, 16 homers, 69 RBIs and 79 runs. He appeared in two games with the Braves.
“Midfield defense is a strong point for him,” Getz said. “He has some left-handed power. And just providing us with depth on the pitch, where we certainly need it, has made him attractive.
Gowens, 24, went 1-1 with a 1.15 ERA and nine strikeouts in five games (three starts) between the Rookie League Braves and Class A Augusta in 2023. The Libertyville graduate was selected in the ninth round in 2023 in Illinois.
“There were some attributes in his pitching repertoire that we thought we could work with and potentially turn him into something,” Getz said.
As part of the deal, the Sox acquired three former first-rounders in Soroka (No. 28 in 2015), Shuster (No. 25 in 2020) and Shewmake (No. 21 in 2019).
Bummer, 30, is on the move after seven seasons with the Sox.
The left-hander with a knack for inciting grounders went 5-5 with a 6.79 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 15 strikeouts in 61 appearances in 2023. He was 14-15 with a 3.84 ERA and 309 strikeouts in 289 career outings with the Sox.
“There was a lot of interest in Aaron Bummer,” Getz said. “Left-handed relievers are always in high demand. Going back to our current needs and comparing it to Atlanta’s needs and where they are and their process, it just aligned.
“There were conversations with other clubs and certainly in evaluating what was the best deal for the White Sox here, we thought that was the deal with Alex and Atlanta.”
The White Sox agreed to terms on a one-year, $750,000 contract with reliever Matt Foster, avoiding arbitration.
All remaining unsigned players on the 40-man roster have been awarded contracts through the 2024 season.