Spare Parts: Kendall Graveman signing official while Javier Báez joins Detroit

Yesterday, the Texas Rangers invested more into their middle infield by signing former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager to a 10-year, $325 million contract. The Rangers have committed half a billion dollars to Seager and Marcus Semien for those keeping score at home. While many are wondering if these two mega-signings even make the Rangers a playoff contender in 2022, one has to admit it’s impressive that one team got two of the top five available free agent middle infielders. 

That class of free agent shortstops shrunk again with news being released after midnight by MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reporting Detroit had a deal with Javier Báez. This morning further reporting unveiled details that the Tigers offer of six years, $140 million, was the winning bid. If you enjoyed the debate of the better Chicago shortstop, Báez or Tim Anderson, you’re in luck as it shifts to an AL Central focus. 

Báez was disappointing from an offensive standpoint in his last 150 games with the Cubs spanning 2020 and his first half in 2021. It appeared he was in decline since his terrific 2018 season when he hit 34 HR 111 RBI and .290/.326/.554. 2019 was another .800+ OPS season, but 2020 Báez never got on track, hitting a woeful .203/.238/.360 in 59 games. While Báez blasted 22 home runs in 91 games for the Cubs in 2021, it was at a .248/.292/.484 slash line at a 104 OPS+ clip. That’s not a hitter worthy of a $20+ million a season contract. 

That changed when Báez arrived in Queens. In 47 games with the Mets, Báez hit .299/.371/.515 with nine home runs and 22 RBI and a 141 OPS+. A small sample size, but Báez was worth 1.9 bWAR during that stretch compared to the 2.7 bWAR in 91 games for the Cubs. There’s no doubt of Báez defensive ability. He’s terrific either at shortstop or second base. If Báez continues his offensive production from Queens to Motown, the Tigers will be pleased with their $140 million investment. 

If Báez hits as he did with the Cubs, naturally, there are going to be moments of frustration from the Tigers faithful. Especially with the flirtation between Carlos Correa and AJ Hinch earlier this month suggested the ultimate big signing was a real possibility. Nevertheless, the signing of Báez is a significant upgrade at shortstop for Detroit. In 2021, Tigers shortstops combined for -0.1 WAR according to FanGraphs, hitting a woeful .201/.275/.321. Baez’s impact will be felt in their lineup. 

On May 1, 2021, Detroit had the American League’s worst record at 8-20 but went 69-65 after their horrible April. In that post-April stretch, the Tigers were still eight games back of the White Sox. Still, if you believe heading into 2022 Detroit is more like their post-April 2021 self, the additions of Báez and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez help shrink that gap at least until the White Sox make a significant addition themselves. 

Kendall Graveman deal official

The Chicago White Sox made Kendall Graveman’s signing official. 

From the White Sox press release, general manager Rick Hahn said:

“Kendall is a veteran who provides us with end-of-game bullpen depth and an ability to induce ground balls. He’s a high character guy and a great teammate who will fit well within our clubhouse and bullpen.” 

Now all Hahn has to figure out is who’s fielding ground balls at second base next season. 

Yan Gomes signs with the Chicago Cubs

Speaking of the North Siders, they are signing Yan Gomes to a two-year deal worth $13 million. An interesting move since the Cubs still have Willson Contreras. 

According to Baseball-Reference, Gomes splitting time between Washington and Oakland last year hit .252/.301/.421 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI and was a 2.5 WAR player. Framing-wise, Gomes had 0 Runs Extra Strikes and a 46.9% strike rate in 2021. For comparison’s sake, Yasmani Grandal also had 0 Runs Extra Strikes last year but a better strike rate at 48.3%. 

For a contending team, Gomes would make a good backup catcher and security blanket. I don’t think many see the Chicago Cubs as a contender in 2022, so it brings back the rumors of a possible Contreras trade. A cryptic tweet from Contreras shortly after the news adds more intrigue. 

If you are hoping the White Sox shore up backup catcher behind Grandal in 2022, well, the options are pretty thin. Yesterday, the Miami Marlins made a deal with Pittsburgh for Jacob Stallings. Pirates are reported to be in talks with Roberto Perez. For the White Sox sake, hopefully, more catching options become available after today’s non-tender deadline. 

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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Augusto Barojas

I’m glad they made the Graveman signing official. I am so glad it is not just a dream. This will put them in the World Series for sure.

Greg Nix

Every time I read Graveman’s name, I hear the “Day Man, ah ahhhhh” song from It’s Always Sunny. Now this is your curse too, dear reader.

calcetinesblancos

The Graveman Cometh

Amar

The Graveman sounds like early single from the Cramps.

HallofFrank

For all the insanity and hoping the Sox would get in on it, Semien is the only one that really hurts. Most of the Sox targets are still out there and the other big playoff teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Astros, Dodgers, Braves) have also been relatively idle. So, it could be worse, I guess?

asinwreck

Agreed, though I would have liked Stallings as someone who can catch a couple times a week and be adequate if Grandal hits the injured list.

mikeyb

Not sure what it would take, but I would love for the Sox to go get Contreras. They can’t afford to have Grandal’s bat out of the lineup for extended periods. This would give him the ability to DH or play 1B more often than not, saving his knees. Contreras could also play a corner OF spot on days Grandal is catching.

Might not be the most efficient use of prospects capital, but if Jerry isn’t willing to pay out for big free agents, this could be a way to improve the MLB roster without spending a ton of cash.

MrStealYoBase

Might not be the most efficient use of prospects capital

Wait. The White Sox have prospect capital?

hitlesswonder

The Sox prospect capital is Andrew Vaughn

calcetinesblancos

What would it take from the Sox? Something obscene.

Augusto Barojas

Wow, so they got a reliever AND he intends to try and get outs when they bring him into the game. Very exciting.

hitlesswonder

It’s an innovative organization.

texag10

Nah fam, this is the White Sox. You’ll get a defined role and you’ll like it.

calcetinesblancos

I’m not sure I can take another year of watching TLR try to manage a pen.

texag10

It really feels like there was a misjudgement of the market based on the lack of moves from Hahn. It almost feels like we wanted to trade Kimbrel so we’d know what the return was and then use that freed up cash to sign free agents but the trade market is stalled due to CBA negotiations and now we’re stuck with our d*** in our hands while all the free agents sign elsewhere.

mrridgman

I think that sums it up pretty well; but why would he have a duck in his hands?

texag10

Because it’s his turn to take it home for the weekend.

dansomeone

Rick: Would you like some duck chow, Mr. Quackers?

calcetinesblancos

I think they misjudged what advice Boras would be giving his clients. It’s obvious Boras made clear to his players that without knowing what the new CBA was going to look like, it would be in their best interest to think hard about whether to accept a pre-lockout offer. Acting fast is usually not his thing, but this situation was unique.

HallofFrank

It really feels more like panic from Sox fans who wish their team was acting like the Rangers, Tigers, or Mets (if you can believe it). Despite your claim that “all the free agents” are signing elsewhere, only 22 of MLBTR’s top 50 have signed—and one of those to the Sox. And, as I pointed out above, Semien is really the only one that was a Sox target/most Sox fans want.

It may be that Hahn has misjudged the market and the Sox will be stuck with Graveman and change, but can we at least make it to December—or, you know, a little over half of the FA signed—before declaring the offseason a failure?

calcetinesblancos

The problem is that the Sox are predictable and their act is stale. Boy who cried wolf vibes. Stop talking about signing people like Harper, Machado, Semien, etc. if you literally have no intention of trying to make an offer they would realistically accept. We’re sick of it.

PauliePaulie

Tough to do when they’re giving Leury a 3 year deal.

texag10

I’m not declaring the offseason a failure. But we know what our current payroll is with Graveman. We know roughly what the pain threshold is for this franchise because we’ve seen how they’ve acted in prior years. It’s one of the poorest kept secrets that we picked up Kimbrel’s option with the primary purpose of trading him away. As of right now, trades just aren’t really materializing because there is less incentive than there is for free agents. No one knows what the post CBA landscape will look like and what impact it will have on free agency so everyone is securing their money now to avoid issues later. Trades don’t really have that same concern. Teams are going to let FA play out a bit, see how the new CBA impacts the remaining free agents, and then look at the impact players in trade because there is less urgency in that area of the offseason.

asinwreck

Multiyear contract with free agent middle infielder!!!!

PauliePaulie

Yuck

calcetinesblancos

This news makes me want to punch a hole in the wall.

Last edited 8 months ago by calcetinesblancos
texag10

A. Why?
B. But no seriously, why?

This feels like a move that TLR specifically asked for, which: on the one hand, a GM and Manager should be working together to build a roster that works but on the other hand, this past season felt very much like moneyball where Rick would go “here’s a new player to use” and TLR just…wouldn’t.

calcetinesblancos

It’s also just boring. Would at least be interesting to see how Romy does, but instead we get a known meh commodity.

jhomeslice

It is boring. The Sox have become boring. Boring manager, boring owner, boring offense, and boring offseasons where they sit on their hands. They made several great trades and got lucky to get so much in return to have the core that they do. And after Sox fans enduring a miserable decade of baseball, one in which they were close to last in payroll near the end of, Grandal remains the best player they sign during the entire rebuild. No matter how anybody who wants to be optimstic wants to spin that, there is no excuse for that when they play in the 3rd largest city and when the team owner is worth almost 2 billion dollars.

a-t

Not really sure what the negative reactions are about here. They should’ve resigned Leury for utility duty even if they signed Semein and traded for Harper or whatever.

PauliePaulie

I was hoping for a utility guy who either played better D, got on base or hit RHP. Leury has the same weaknesses the Sox possess as a team.
He’s a fine back-up on a team with different issues. On the Sox, he’s part of the problem.
Plus TLR loves him and will misuse him.

texag10

We have several in house options that are going to definitely be cheaper on a team where payroll is a serious concern and a manager who most likely will overexpose Leury when it’s not necessary.

calcetinesblancos

Zack Collins roster spot confirmed.

a-t

Leury back for three years, no report on money just yet. Well, that’s second base solved!

Sarcasm aside, I’m fighting the feeling that the Sox are sitting on their hands with some rationality… a lot of the big FAs are off the board, but only two (Baez, Semein) were at a real position of need, and frankly I don’t know that I would want either of those guys on those contracts. Semein’s gonna be 35 or older for most of that fat contract, and I think Baez’s offensive game will be horrifyingly bad when his crazy hand-eye and bat speed start to slip.

The targets I liked the most when building my offseason plan are mostly still on the board, save for Adam Frazier. Chris Taylor and Suzuki/Conforto/Castellanos (in order of preference) would make for a very solid offseason still. As for backup C, Miami’s gonna non-tender Jorge Alfaro if they can’t find someone to trade for his last 2 arb years.

a-t

Rays looking to deal Joey Wendle, apparently. 3 (arb) years of control left, although he’s heading into his age-32 season. 2B/3B, can handle SS in a pinch, the defensive metrics like him best at 2B where he’s well above average— although take into consideration TB’s positioning probably helped. Career .274/.328/.408 (103 wRC+) lefty hitter with 3.1 fWAR/600 PA average production. Notable but not killer platoon splits; 110 wRC+ vs RHP, 80 wRC+ vs LHP. Probably won’t cost much in either trade or arb money. Not the sexiest option, but makes a lot of sense. Maybe a three-way trade with Wendle —> CHW, Kimbrel —> mystery team, mystery team prospects —> TBR?