Sox boost bullpen by making Graveman signing official

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

It might not be the Chicago White Sox news South Side fans have been begging for at a time when the top free agents are flying off the board, but the team has made a move.

Kendall Graveman is officially a member of the White Sox' bullpen, his three-year deal worth $24 million announced Tuesday after being reported last week.

Graveman isn't a big bat or a top-of-the-rotation starter, the kind of additions that teams across the league have been making in record-setting fashion over the past few days. But he was one of the best relief arms available on the free-agent market this winter and fills a critical need in a White Sox bullpen depleted by departures.

RELATED: Kendall Graveman brings fresh World Series experience to Sox

The 30-year-old righty was sensational in 2021, posting a 1.77 ERA while splitting time between the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. Though his numbers jumped up after an intra-division midseason trade, he was terrific for the Astros in the postseason, with a 1.64 ERA across nine appearances that included three outings during the World Series.

Graveman's three-year contract comes after just one season of stellar work as a reliever, the majority of his big league career prior featuring work as a starter with limited success. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn often mentions the volatility of relief pitching from one season to the next, something South Side fans are plenty familiar with after the 2021 bullpen struggled, at least initially, to live up to sky-high expectations.


But Graveman was about as good a free-agent addition the White Sox could have made to restock the bullpen. Ryan Tepera and Evan Marshall are free agents, Michael Kopech is leaving for the starting rotation, Garrett Crochet's role for 2022 remains undecided, and Craig Kimbrel was openly discussed as a trade candidate earlier this month. That left just best-in-the-game closer Liam Hendriks, setup man Aaron Bummer and long man Reynaldo López among other internal options who had smaller roles in 2021.

And so Graveman fits nicely, keeping the back end of the 'pen a strength, even in an offseason of turnover. Though the team could still either trade Kimbrel or keep him, Graveman provides a potentially steadier late-inning hand than what the White Sox saw from Kimbrel over the final two months of the 2021 season, during which he struggled to transition from All-Star closer to first-time eighth-inning man.

"Kendall is a veteran who provides us with end-of-game bullpen depth and an ability to induce ground balls," Hahn said in the announcement. "He's a high-character guy and a great teammate who will fit well within our clubhouse and bullpen."

And while focus will be on what Graveman accomplished statistically in 2021, his teammates will certainly appreciate the winning experience he just gained during a deep playoff run with the Astros, especially after White Sox leaders spent the weeks that followed their quick postseason exit talking about the benefits of exactly that type of experience.

So even if White Sox fans continue expressing impatience and irritation over not seeing their team mentioned in the Twitter rumors that have constantly flown the last few days, they should know that the Graveman signing did in fact happen and that it was a mighty positive acquisition that addressed one of the South Siders' biggest needs this winter.

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