There are “numerous teams,” including the Braves, interested in members of the White Sox bullpen, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score tweets. Closer Alex Colome and setup man Aaron Bummer are unsurprisingly drawing plenty of attention. Beyond those two, lefty Jace Fry and resurgent righty Evan Marshall stand out as Sox relievers who could have trade value to the Braves and others. However, Levine reported Monday that Chicago’s not inclined to deal Bummer or Fry.
Levine also relayed Monday that the White Sox, despite their dismal record, aren’t motivated to sell before the July 31 deadline. But unless Chicago’s highly confident it’s going to contend next season, there’s a legitimate case for it to part with Colome. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is only under control through 2020, when he’ll earn an arbitration raise over his $7.325MM salary, and currently looks like a strong candidate for regression.
The right-handed Colome has pitched to a sterling 2.33 ERA with 21 saves on 22 tries in 38 2/3 innings this season. He has been the beneficiary of a .153 batting average on balls in play and an 82.7 percent strand out, however, and has seen his strikeout rate plummet. After fanning upward of 9.5 batters per nine last season, Colome’s K/9 has shrunk to 6.98. He’s also giving up more hard contact and less soft contact than ever, per FanGraphs, and Statcast shows a 102-point gap between the .228 weighted on-base average Colome has allowed and his expected wOBA of .330.
“Bummer” may be what opposing hitters have muttered this year when the left-handed Bummer has come out of Chicago’s bullpen. The 25-year-old Bummer is similar to Colome in that he’s getting by with help from a low BABIP (.213), an ERA that’s significantly better than his FIP and a sizable wOBA/xwOBA gap. Having said that, Bummer’s 1.73 ERA, 3.17 FIP and .262 xwOBA (compared to a .232 wOBA) are all easily above average. While Bummer’s not a strikeout-heavy pitcher, having notched 8.67 against 2.72 walks per nine, he has stymied lefty and righty hitters alike with his remarkable ability to induce ground balls. At 68.5 percent, Bummer trails only longtime grounder master Zack Britton among relievers.
Incidentally, Luke Jackson – one of the Braves’ best relievers – happens to be right behind Bummer on the grounder leaderboard. Jackson’s success is one of the reasons the Braves hold a healthy advantage in the National League East, but their bullpen has been fairly shaky. Aside from Jackson, Anthony Swarzak, Sean Newcomb and the currently injured Jacob Webb, no one from their ’pen has prevented runs at an especially excellent rate. The Braves have been in the market for late-game help as a result, and could wind up swinging a deal with the White Sox to bolster their relief corps.