Now that GM Rick Hahn has located all the receipts from his ill-fated, drunken shopping spree at the Superpen Superstore, the White Sox continue on a run of returning them.
The latest reliever sent back home is Kendall Graveman, who pitched in Houston to finish out 2021 before signing a three-year, $24 million deal with the White Sox that offseason.
In return, the White Sox get their first MLB-ready player (only one of six so far acquired, odd in light of Hahn’s interest in “reloading” rather than “rebuilding”), cannon-armed catcher Korey Lee.
Lee turned 25 just three days ago (happy birthday, Korey, you’re heading into a dumpster fire!) and was a teammate of Andrew Vaughn at Cal. He was selected as Houston’s first-rounder at the bottom of the 2019 draft, at No. 32 overall. The 6´2´´, 210-pound right actually has some real wheels (36-of-47, 76.6%, in his MiLB career) and has seen a little time at the infield corners and outfield as a pro.
While known for a light bat, Lee did break out in 2022 with a heavy-power (an uncharacteristic .245 ISO), 25-homer season. But this season he’s sunk back to his normal, languid offense numbers, with only five home runs and continued K/BB issues.
But no matter, Lee’s calling card is a cannon arm along with a great personage behind the plate. Having someone behind the plate, whether as primary catcher or platoon guy, whole can collaborate with and protect his pitchers, is of utmost importance — and Lee brings that as well as anyone in the game.
Lee could possibly report right to Chicago, but given his offensive woes in 2023 should see a stop a Charlotte first.
Graveman often was a source of frustration to White Sox fans, but he acquitted himself well enough in his 110-game tenure (3.30 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 126 ERA+, 1.8 WAR). Forced as was the entire bullpen to adopt different roles in the absence of closer Liam Hendriks, Graveman did slip some in 2023. Inasmuch as no short reliever should be lavished with thick free-agent dollars, Graveman did his job for the White Sox and was not a Hahn signing failure.