The Braves made a couple of shocking trades this offseason, both centering around fan-favorite pitchers — Michael Soroka and Kyle Wright.
Soroka was moved to Chicago along with Jared Shuster, Nicky Lopez, Braden Shewmake, and Riley Gowens in exchange for the White Sox’s Aaron Bummer. The Braves and Soroka’s timeline just didn’t match up. Soroka had no options left, and the club had no room for him in the rotation to figure things out.
It made sense, given Bummer’s underlying metrics and Atlanta’s ability to get more out of pitchers than most organizations; however, the same cannot be said for the Kyle Wright trade. Jackson Kowar has totaled 74 innings across three seasons with a walk rate of 13.7% and an ERA of 9.12.
Kowar was in the 91st-percentile for fastball velocity last year, and as I said, the Braves have a much better track record developing pitchers than most clubs, especially the Royals. So, maybe they get something out of him, but as FanGraphs described, this is a flier for both clubs because of the extent of Wright’s injury.
“The way pitchers are trained nowadays, it’s almost a given that a pitcher who has any professional career worth writing about is going to suffer at least one serious arm injury. These range from the routine (UCL tear) to the career-threatening (thoracic outlet syndrome).
… A torn shoulder capsule is in the middle. The capsule, which does not have a window or a hatch with explosive bolts, is the bag of soft tissue that allows the shoulder to move within its socket without grinding bone on bone. Obviously, this bit of the anatomy is vitally important for anyone who throws for a living.
Generally, a torn UCL hasn’t been a career-threatening injury for years, but a torn shoulder capsule is still scary. (It’s important to mention that Wright’s injury was described in those terms…
A 2014 article in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery pegged the recovery rate for this kind of injury at between eight and 18 months…
The study touts 10 successful recoveries out of 11 patients, all either college or professional baseball players, two in a time frame that would get Woodruff and Wright back on the field before the end of the 2024 regular season.
Digging down into the individual cases, things get a little fuzzier. The two players who recovered fastest were the only two position players in the sample. Of the seven professional pitchers in the study, six returned to play some form of professional baseball, but only three came back to pitch in the majors again. Those three, all of them age 28 or younger, had recovery times of 14.6 months, 17.7 months, and 18.8 months.
That sheds some light on the question of why Wright had so little trade value despite having three years of team control, and why nobody traded for Woodruff and tried to sign him to a multi-year contract with incentives and options.”
Kyle Wright is unlikely to pitch in 2025, and there’s no guarantee that he’s ever the same pitcher he was when he posted 21 wins across 180 1/3 innings, accumulating 2.9 WAR with a 3.19 ERA.
The Braves aren’t in a position to wait and see, and it’s clear the club doesn’t feel great about Wright’s chances of making it back to the guy we saw in 2022. It’s a harsh reminder of how unforgiving this game can be and an even bigger reminder that early contracts aren’t robbing young players.
For every Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. that sign team-friendly contract extensions, there’s a Kyle Wright and Michael Soroka who would’ve loved to sign early contract extensions.
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