Michael Soroka had heard rumors about a potential trade.
“I had a good idea that I might be moved,” he said Monday during a video conference.
The right-hander received a call from Alex Anthopoulos Thursday night, and the Atlanta Braves’ president of baseball operations informed Soroka he was headed to the Chicago White Sox.
“Alex explained what their plans were and gave me the opportunity to go somewhere to pitch,” Soroka said. “I appreciate that, the frank conversation I had with him.
“And then (the call) that followed with (Sox general manager) Chris Getz, they emphasized how excited they were about me and that made me feel good. It was a good little renewed confidence to come up with something that I think I believe in me.
Soroka was dealt to the Sox — along with left-hander Jared Shuster, infielders Nicky Lopez and Braden Shewmake and minor league right-hander Riley Gowens — in exchange for reliever Aaron Bummer.
“I’m very happy to have listened to some of the new people joining the White Sox organization,” Soroka said. “It’s something exciting and I can’t wait to go.”
“They see my potential and everyone in the organization seems to want to make the most of it now and in the long term. I can’t wait to get to work. These people look awesome.
Soroka pitched for the Braves and at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2023, his first action since 2020 after tearing and then tearing his right Achilles tendon.
“I felt a big weight lifted off my shoulder when I came back last year,” Soroka said. “Even though I was a little rustier last year than I expected, it was completely natural.
“I had to overcome some issues last year and I felt like I got to a really good point towards the end of the season. Confidence started to come back naturally.
Soroka went 2-2 with a 6.40 ERA and 29 strikeouts in seven games (six starts) with the Braves and 4-4 with a 3.41 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 17 starts for Gwinnett.
Getz said the pitcher showed “moments and flashes of what Soroka was earlier in his career” and “there’s some upside to that.”
“You have a player who was one of the best pitchers in the game years ago,” Getz said during a video conference Friday. “Unfortunately he had an Achilles injury and he missed a decent amount of time there.
“He comes from an organization that has had recent success. He pitched some really meaningful games for the Atlanta Braves.
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 earned All-Star honors, finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting and sixth for the NL Cy Young Award in 2019 after going 13-4 with a 2 ERA .68 and 142 strikeouts in 29 starts.
Soroka made three starts in 2020 before suffering a torn right Achilles tendon on August 3, 2020. He tore it again in June 2021.
“These last three years haven’t gone as planned for anyone,” Soroka said. “But I feel really good right now. I was lucky enough to find a few bands to work with. A group that helped me get through my second rehab in Green Bay, the staff that worked under my surgeon, did an incredible job of making sure I did everything I could to come back.
“Although it took a while, I finally got there. I’m starting to feel like an athlete I wanted to be all along, or even a better athlete.
Former Sox infielder Jake Burger – who also returned from several Achilles tears – was helpful throughout the process.
“He was the only one really in professional sports who did it twice and came out of it,” Soroka said. “He emphasized, ‘Just keep going.'”
With his 2023 season ending in early September due to right shoulder inflammation, Soroka said he’s already pitching and “feels great.”
He’s looking forward to an opportunity with the Sox that “means everything.”
“After dealing with injuries the last three years,” Soroka said, “having the idea that a change of scenery might be beneficial (for me), after listening to (Sox senior pitching advisor) Brian Bannister and a little bit (Sox pitching coach) Ethan (Katz) and talking to (former Braves teammate) Max Fried, who was with (Katz) in high school, how many people have done such a good job with these people is quite exciting for me.