Far from a bummer: The White Sox’s best reliever in 2019 has signed a long-term deal that could keep him on the South Side through 2026. (@BallparkPost)
Aaron Bummer, 26, has signed a five-year with the White Sox. As per the agreement, Bummer will earn $1 million in 2020, $2 million in 2021, $2.5 million in 2022, $3.75 million in 2023, and $5.5 million in 2024. Those totals add to $14.75 million, but Bummer’s guaranteed money ends up at $16 million, as this deal includes team options for 2025 and 2026. If the White Sox do not decide to bring him back for either of those seasons, they will owe the lefthander a buyout of $1.25 million. If the White Sox bring him back, Bummer will earn $7.25 million in 2025 and $7.5 million in 2026, which would bring the total value of this deal to $29.5 million over seven years.
Bummer was the White Sox’s most reliable reliever in 2019. In 67 ⅔ innings, Bummer had a 2.13 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, and 0.990 WHIP. Those numbers rendered him a 1.3 WAR player per FanGraphs and a 2.8 WAR player per Baseball-Reference, a remarkably high total for a reliever.
As expected from a pitcher with those numbers, Bummer had quite a few great moments last season, but given the circumstances, one performance sticks out more than the rest. Most White Sox fans will remember the June 18 game at Wrigley Field as the game Eloy Jiménez hit a go-ahead, ninth-inning home run. While that home run was the highlight of the game, and arguably the season, that game may have played out much differently had Bummer not been on top of his game. When Bummer entered the game in the sixth inning, he inherited a runner on first and nobody out, but the North Siders could not manage anything in two innings against him. When all was said and done, among White Sox players, only Jiménez had a higher WPA (+.242) in that memorable game than Bummer (+.216).
Granted, relievers’ performances are often volatile from year to year, and 2019 was Bummer’s first season as a pitcher who was clearly above average. Despite these factors, this seems to be a great deal for both sides. Given Bummer’s 2019 performance, he could regress quite a bit and still be worth this contract. In addition, Bummer looked like an entirely different pitcher last year than he was in 2018. It seems safe to say that in the future, Bummer will look more like his 2019 self than his 2018 self. Props to the front office for getting this one done.