White Sox

Why free agent Kendall Graveman chose the White Sox

White Sox
Kendall Graveman

Kendall Graveman asked Lance Lynn why he stayed.

Graveman was trying to decide where to sign in free agency, and the White Sox, he said Tuesday, were “pursuing” him the hardest of any team.

So, Graveman reached out to the pitcher who had signed a two-year extension in July, halfway through his first season in Chicago.

“It was a very good answer,” Graveman said.

In part, Lynn talked about his expectations for the future, of playoff pushes to come. And his focus on winning resonated with Graveman.

On Tuesday, Graveman joined Chicago media on a zoom call, his agreed upon three-year, $24 million contract with the White Sox official.

 “Coming to the White Sox was not an easy choice at first, but at the end of the day, it’s the right choice and it’s a choice I’m at peace with and it’s a choice my family and I made.”

Having other suitors, and making a decision with implications for years to come, Graveman said, made the it difficult.  But in the end, the South Siders secured a proven back-end reliever, one who had helped the Astros eliminate the White Sox in the American League Division Series this year.

How did the White Sox win over Graveman?

The contract itself is always a factor. Good rapport with White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who Graveman said was a “pleasure to work with throughout the whole process,” helped. Graveman and his wife, Victoria, were also enamored with Chicago itself, and the idea of moving to the Windy City.

 

Away from the negotiating table, however, Graveman informed his decision with another set of conversations.

In addition to Lynn, Graveman talked with White Sox southpaw Dallas Keuchel and closer Liam Hendriks.  The free agent came away from those conversations impressed by the organization’s commitment to players’ families and reports of Hahn’s willingness to listen to players.

“I think that’s huge from a GM’s perspective,” Graveman said, “because not all GMs are that way.”

Graveman also sought the opinion of White Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel, who may be headed out the door soon. The pair overlapped in the Cubs organization, and Graveman raved about Kimbrel’s accolades and character.

Graveman and Kimbrel’s 2021 seasons played out in a similar fashion. They both began the year as closers and then, after being traded midseason, shifted into setup roles with mixed results.

Graveman bounced back to early-season form in the playoffs, but Kimbrel’s August struggles followed him into October. The White Sox picked up Kimbrel’s 2022 contract option, but he’s a strong trade candidate this winter.

“He had a lot of positive things to say about the White Sox,” Graveman said of Kimbrel.

Throughout his press conference Tuesday, Graveman brought up a range of reasons he was excited about this new chapter of his career, from an early connection with catcher Yasmani Grandal, to learning opportunities with his bullpen mates and pitching coach Ethan Katz. But Graveman kept returning to one theme in particular:

“At the end of the day, I want to win a championship,” Graveman said. “Being so close with the Astros last year makes me want to win a championship even more. And I believe the city of Chicago, especially the White Sox fans, are eager to do that again.”

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