Multiple sources not named Bob Nightengale reported on Tuesday that reliever Kendall Graveman, late of Houston and Seattle but making his grade for several seasons with the Oakland A’s, inked a three-year, $24 million deal.
White Sox said closing in on a deal for Kendall Graveman. $24M for 3 years range.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 23, 2021
Later, Nightengale confirmed the deal, and confirming White Sox moves is the one area the USA Today “lead baseball writer” excels. So, at risk of pulling a Liam Hendriks unveil a week early — James Fox had the scoop for us a year ago, before the whole thing was almost scuttled due to a late “mystery team” entering the bidding and forcing the White Sox to push the deal to four years — it looks like the replacement for Ryan Tepera has arrived.
Graveman was a starter until 2020, when he joined the Mariners, and was pretty mediocre (4.38 ERA/4.58 FIP). In fact, he started his first two games in 2020 with Seattle, and he was awful, prompting a bullpen demotion.
From there, however, he was solid, throwing seven scoreless games (of nine total) out of the pen and finishing with a 3.60 relief ERA marred by one terrible outing. An extremely small sample size, but promising.
He was elevated to a key back-end role in 2021 with Seattle (including some closing duties) and completely lost his mind, doing a Craig Kimbrel imitation with 10 saves in 30 games with three earned runs, a 0.82 ERA and .697 WHIP. The Mariners (rather controversially) sold high on Graveman, and after a trade to Houston the righthander fell back to earth with a 3.13 ERA and 1.391 WHIP.
Is one year enough to go on to commit to three years at a 2.0 WAR per price? He will have to be as good as he was in 2021 (2.2 bWAR), so that is what the White Sox are paying for.
It’s said that this move guarantees Craig Kimbrel will be booted out of town, but that’s not a done deal, especially if the White Sox find no one on board to take on all $16 million of his salary. It’s also been mused that this deal ($8 million per) means the White Sox have helped kill their own market for shipping Kimbrel out at $16 million, but Graveman and Kimbrel are not the same pitchers; despite Kimbrel’s terrible tour with the White Sox, he logged a higher bWAR (2.5) than Graveman in 2021 and brings slightly more experience and grativas to late-inning/closer appearances. He’s also just 2 1⁄2 years older than Graveman.
Stay tuned, if this is indeed not a Hendriks early fake-out situation, we’ll have some confirmation and Rick Hahn quotes after the signing is official.