White Sox keep adding closers, reportedly sign Kendall Graveman

Last winter, the White Sox’s biggest move was the signing of a free-agent closer for either $13.5 million or $18 million a year, depending on whether the White Sox exercised the final year.

This winter started with the White Sox picking up the option for another closer at $16 million, although they have plans on trading him.

Now their next move is apparently signing another closer, as Jon Heyman says the White Sox are closing in on a deal with Kendall Graveman for three years and $24 million.

Graveman is less accomplished in the genre than either Liam Hendriks or Craig Kimbrel. He’d saved his first 10 games just last year with the Seattle Mariners, but his work in the ninth inning was enough to inspire the Houston Astros to acquire him from their AL West foe in a four-player deal before the trade deadline. The Mariners included Rafael Montero, while the Astros sent Joe Smith and Abraham Toro to Seattle.

Graveman had also inspired enough confidence in his Mariners teammates that Jerry Dipoto’s decision to deal him to the division leader led to a feeling of “betrayal” in the Seattle clubhouse.

Multiple pitchers emerged from the clubhouse with tears still in their eyes from saying goodbye to Graveman.

“You should’ve seen it earlier,” said a veteran player about the initial reaction.

Several players opted not to speak on the record about the move, but their anger was palpable. Sources said equipment was broken and smashed while one player “went absolutely mad.”

“Betrayed” was a word used often.

“Are you (expletive) kidding me?” said the same player. “It never changes. They don’t care about winning. How do you trade him and say you care about winning? And you trade him to Houston? It never changes.”

Graveman’s performance — a 0.82 ERA and just 26 baserunners allowed over 33 innings — explained the frustration at the player level. Graveman’s subsequent regression with Houston — an ordinary 3.13 ERA, 20 hits and 12 walks over 23 innings — explained Dipoto’s decision to get anything for Graveman at the height of his value, and before he’d reached free agency. Graveman’s record shows that he went 0-for-3 in save opportunities with Houston, although given that those three appearances started in the seventh and eighth innings, they weren’t his game to close out. Graveman had wobbled too much for saves by then, issuing 12 walks over his final 12 innings and hitting a couple of batters as well.

That said, Graveman redeemed himself in the posteason. He allowed just two runs over nine games and 11 innings. Only two of those appearances could be classified as leverage-laden, but he posted three zeroes over those games when called upon.

Graveman had worked on a pair of small-potatoes one-year deals with Seattle the last two years. He hadn’t made a case for more, what with a 4.44 ERA and ugly peripherals whether starting or relieving.

Now here he is with his first big payday, signing a three-year, $24 million deal. The contract year was more than a fluke, because his sinker jumped two ticks to 96.5 mph, a slider emerged to complement it in a way his cutter never did, and his ground-ball rate stayed above 50 percent (54.9). The White Sox need somebody like him with Evan Marshall off the roster, Ryan Tepera a free agent and Michael Kopech projected for a rotation spot.

It’s just not particularly exciting because of the context. With Hendriks and Kimbrel, the White Sox made closers the center of their last two acquisition periods, only for the postseason to reveal the danger of tying up all the resources for players who require leads to matter. Also, there’s the matter that the White Sox have made their intentions of dealing Kimbrel clear, and he’s an elephant on the payroll until he’s gone.

Perhaps by signing Graveman, the White Sox are reducing the amount of alternates for teams to pursue on the open market, doing what they can to create a near-monopoly on pitchers with recent ninth-inning success. For the time being, all we can hope for is that this Graveman isn’t more like…

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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As Cirensica

Hahn is trading Kimbrel and Hendriks confirmed….Freeing money for Semien signing.

Trooper Galactus

If teams can get a guy like Graveman for $8m a year, I’m curious as to who wants Kimbrel at $16m without trading away an albatross.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Exactly. I’ll believe they will be able to dump Kimbrel’s full 16M without getting stuck with the salary of some equivalently questionable player when I see it.

a-t

There were also some considerably less generous reports of Graveman’s “leadership” in Seattle— namely, that he was highly resistant to the idea of getting the vaccine, and his status in the clubhouse was such that he was influencing other players against doing so as well. That was supposedly in part why Seattle wanted to wash their hands of him… so to speak. It should be noted that those reports could also be read as the Seattle FO defending their actions when both the players and fanbase badly wanted to win and they have appeared less than enthusiastic about that.

Not a huge concern here, I don’t think, because there’s been not a peep of a white sox player complaining about the jab. Something to keep an eye on, though.

Trooper Galactus

It could certainly become an issue if Canada’s travel ban on unvaccinated people is still in effect when the White Sox are scheduled to play in Toronto.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Would be ridiculous if that’s the case. A recent negative test is far more relevant than vaccination, and should be enough. Some hospitals have reported nearly half of their Covid patients are vaccinated. I’ve talked to several people who got Covid after vax. 4 vaxed 76er’s players just had it. They may prevent severe cases but don’t stop transmission well enough to justify mandates. I respect Graveman for thinking critically about what we’re all being told to do, and choosing for himself.

vanillablue

Will you please get out of here with this nonsense.

If you are vaccinated, you are MUCH less likely to get COVID, become severely ill from COVID, or transmit it to someone else. Of course the vaccines are not perfect, but if your standard is perfection, then what are you doing being a White Sox fan?

A “recent negative test” means little. A negative test TODAY is helpful, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you’re not testing yourself every day.

In areas where vaccination rates are high, of course a higher proportion of cases will be among vaccinated patients compared to somewhere where vax rates are low. If you can’t understand why, I don’t know, go back and take eighth grade math or something.

I am a doctor and have been running my hospital’s COVID unit for the last 21 months. I’m going to keep doing my job and going the extra mile for every single COVID patient (and everyone else who’s sick), regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. But I’m not going to lie – I am completely fed up with people like you, who talk about “choosing for myself” when you actually mean “I don’t care about anyone except myself”.

Foulkelore

Thanks for what you have been doing to help people.

Foulkelore

It’s silly to throw out anecdotal statements like that, but even If “SOME hospitals have reported NEARLY half of their Covid patients are vaccinated” that means the majority of their Covid patients in that subset of hospitals are not vaccinated. Yes, being vaccinated unfortunately doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get Covid. However, the factual information remains that the vaccines help prevent the spread of Covid and greatly reduce the need for hospitalization. Here’s a very recent report by the state of Washington that those who aren’t vaccinated are 5 times more likely to get Covid and 9 to 18 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/data-tables/421-010-CasesInNotFullyVaccinated.pdf

Last edited 7 months ago by Foulkelore
T Cods

The US data is complete crap. The data from the UK shows that this vaccine does not prevent transmission in any meaningful way. Page 23 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1034383/Vaccine-surveillance-report-week-46.pdf

Trooper Galactus

Good thing we have big brains like you to give us the facts an actual doctor can’t.

T Cods

Yes, I somehow got the UK public health authorities to publish this data. Got me

Trooper Galactus

Which literally opens with this on the effectiveness of the vaccine:

“Several studies of vaccine effectiveness have been conducted in the UK which indicate that 2 doses of vaccine are between 65 and 95% effective at preventing symptomatic disease with COVID-19 with the Delta variant, with higher levels of protection against severe disease including hospitalisation and death.”

T Cods

I thought saying “page 23” might be enough of a hint. We are talking about transmission, not any of the things you just quoted. As you will see in the data, the rates of infection are not favorable for the vaccinated.

Trooper Galactus

<sigh>

“These raw data should not be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness as the data does not take into account inherent biases present such as differences in risk, behaviour and testing in the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.”

T Cods

Ignore the data because we don’t like what it says. LOL. They only put that statement in there after the case rates started looking so bad in the vaccinated. So basically no piece of data can change your mind. That’s called religion my friend

Trooper Galactus

Or, maybe, actual scientists involved in writing that are better at interpreting data than you are.

T Cods

You have no idea what my chops as a data scientist are… I’ll leave it there

Trooper Galactus

No, but you make it pretty obvious.

Joliet Orange Sox

Let’s not descend into a debate about covid. It’s an important debate but it seems unlikely that a White Sox fan forum will be the place that there is a meeting of the minds.

Most of us are not doctors or ph.d.’s in immunology or other related fields and don’t really have the background to analyze every bit of data from actual scientific studies. I think a classic mistake people make is to say “Oh, I have a ph.d. in physics (or whatever field) or I’m an expert on such a such a topic so I must be an expert on everything.”

Trooper Galactus

No, I’m calling this out since he’s blatantly misrepresenting what’s in the very link he provided. I’m sick of this shit.

T Cods

No dumb ass. Look at page 23. I’m not talking about symptomatic disease, hospitalizations or death. Cases = transmission. It’s right there in the table. I’m sick of this shit

Last edited 7 months ago by T Cods
Trooper Galactus

Way to skip pages 8 and 9, doofus.

Trooper Galactus

Get off the crack, Lamar.

itaita

Id rather they keep Tepera but as long as he pitches at the level of his contract he can inject chicken broth in his veins while preaching the gospel of anti-beef broth for all i care.

Soxfan2

If anyone predicted the Sox first major move would be multi-year signing a relief pitcher… come collect your winnings! I’d have to imagine a Kimbrel done is all about completed at this point.

The most important question: Is Hahn operating within the confines of a strict payroll with $8M added for the next 3 years or is Jerry opening up his wallet more than expected?

Trooper Galactus

Even if they traded Kimbrel right now they’d be at around $158 million already on the books for 2022, which would put them around 11th or 12th in the league by 2021 standards and a full $25+ million higher than their previous club record to open a season. Even if payroll expands to $170 million like in the OOP, they don’t have enough left in the tank to sign good players at both 2B and RF, and can probably only get a mid-level type for either one (Schwarber? Escobar?).

Trooper Galactus

Also, the Rays just committed over $180 million to a single player, so the fact that players costing even half that seem unattainable to the White Sox is just laughable at this point.

Joliet Orange Sox

I am very concerned about the Jerry not opening the wallet. However, I don’t think the Wander Franco deal is the best example to bring up to make the Sox look cheap because locking up young players early at less than top of market prices (Sale, Anderson, Moncada, Robert, …) is something Hahn has pursued with some success (the Robert deal is $88M assuming the Sox pick up the options). I can imagine the Sox making a deal like the Franco deal. The deal Hahn has never made is for an established player in his prime for top of market prices and I expect that pattern will continue this off-season despite some significant holes.

Trooper Galactus

Except the entire point of those deals is to jump on free agents EARLY in said deals so that they can make use of their least expensive years. Instead, when they had a chance to jump on excellent free agents available in 2019-21, they held back in multiple areas and didn’t expand their payroll beyond previous (insufficient) levels, which resulted in wasting the most cost-efficient years of their best players.

Now those same contracts that were lauded for saving the team money on players who would out-perform the commitment are being treated like millstones. Why should we expect Hahn to be able to fill in the gaps around Anderson, Moncada, Robert, Jimenez, and Bummer when they’re being paid over twice what they collectively made two years ago?

HallofFrank

Well, that’s not the point of these deals. In fact, it’s closer to the opposite: these extensions mean the player costs more than he otherwise would have *early* in the deal, the trade-off being that he’ll be less expensive (and more controllable) later. If the goal were to capitalize on affordability early, these extensions would never happen.

Plus, I’d argue it’s more important to capitalize on their most productive years, not their cheapest.

Trooper Galactus

The cost early in the deal is still going to be a pittance compared to production early in the contract. These contracts don’t become INefficient at the end (Anderson, Moncada, Bummer, Robert, and Jimenez should still produce well beyond their compensation in 2022 and even 2023), but they do leave less room for a team to work with.

The Rays probably look at the last few years on Franco’s deal as a tradeable asset rather than a financial commitment because they always find a way to replace the talent they trade. The White Sox, conversely, get further backed into a financial corner with each passing year and haven’t shown the savvy to be able to replace such players immediately if traded, nor the willingness to expand payroll to add around them sufficiently.

HallofFrank

I agree with what you’ve said in this post. I was responding to, and disagree with, this from your earlier post: “the entire point of those deals is to jump on free agents EARLY in said deals so that they can make use of their least expensive years.“

This isn’t the case. These extensions cost the team *more* early in the deals, not less. If the point we’re capitalizing on a players affordability early, teams wouldn’t sign these deals and just pay the player league minimum for 3 years. Rather, these deals are about extending control later.

Trooper Galactus

Yes, it costs more over what they will spend on them without the extension, but they are still at their most cost-efficient in those years in most cases. I mean, if Moncada had not been signed to an extension, he wouldn’t have made all that much less via arbitration, would he?

peanutsncrackerjack

The Rays did something similar with Longoria and traded him half way through the contract.

Trooper Galactus

Actually, they traded him a year into that contract, but the fact they signed him to it in the first place is more than the White Sox have ever committed to, by a significant margin. It’s why it was so disingenuous when they crowed about the total value of the contracts they added in 2015 and 2020 when a reasoned observer would recognize that money committed is not necessarily money spent (and, in the case of 2015, it absolutely was not spent).

hitlesswonder

I feel like this means the Sox are filling RF and 2B and backup catcher internally. This signing is almost the whole off-season budget. I would guess they might sign a Brian Goodwin like OF and maybe a bullpen depth arm…and that’s it.

Trooper Galactus

I think at least one of the two is going to be filled internally, and I fear it’s gonna be right field with a combination of Engel, Vaughn, and Sheets. 2B I could still see them pursuing a second-tier option like Escobar.

soxygen

2022: Like 2021, but more so!

Trooper Galactus

Less is more, indeed.

TylerDurden

I am of the semi strong opinion and will be until proven otherwise that Keuchel gets traded as well. Yes I know they will have to throw in some money.
But after big dogs SP sign there will be teams who missed out and looking to add SP depth. I believe there will be more than 1 team willing to take a shot on a guy like Keuchel at only 1 year commitment for 12-13mil ish. SP is expensive in free agency.

Also, I loved Mr Josh Nelson’s off-season plan of trading for a #3 SP Chris Bassitt making 1 yr/ 8.8mil. If he continues to pitch well extend him 2 years like Lance Lynn.

As mentioned as well I could see E. Escobar as the 2nd tier 2B they sign. Then in house with RF- Vaughn/Sheets/Engel.

If Jerry spends little more maybe Maybe Chris Taylor at 2B, but I’m not holding my breath, just a want.

Lynn
Giolito
Bassitt
Cease
Kopech

I do not think it’s smart going into next year with Cease as your #3 especially for playoffs, due to inconsistencies. Hence the trade for Bassitt or someone comparable. Sonny Gray? Castillo?

soxygen

Here’s another potential slogan:

2022 – Trying again with a new second closer.