The Chicago White Sox secured one of the most enticing relief targets in free agency on Tuesday.
Several outlets reported that bullpen ace Kendall Graveman agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with the south siders.
White Sox said closing in on a deal for Kendall Graveman. $24M for 3 years range.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 23, 2021
It’s a huge payday for Graveman, who parlayed a breakout 2021 campaign into a very nice deal.
Graveman, a career 4.15 ERA pitcher who alternated between the rotation and the bullpen, experienced a noticeable increase in fastball velocity.
That helped him post the best strikeout percentage of his career, with a jump from 19.5 percent to 27.5 percent.
The White Sox Are Trusting Graveman’s Breakout
Chicago is obviously believing in Graveman’s step forward as a reliever.
In 2021, he finished with a solid 1.77 ERA in 56 innings with two teams: the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros.
He was extremely solid in the postseason, too, and is capable of pitching multiple innings if needed.
He was lights out with Seattle, with a 0.82 ERA in 33 frames, and was more good than great with Houston, finishing his regular season stint with them with a 3.13 ERA in 23 episodes.
Now, the White Sox’s bullpen is looking absolutely loaded for 2022: they have closer Liam Hendriks, Craig Kimbrel, Aaron Bummer, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, and Reynaldo Lopez, just to name a few.
Ever since their current core broke into the bigs (Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Kopech, Lucas Giolito, and others) a couple of years ago, the White Sox have made it a priority to build a powerful bullpen.
However, Kimbrel, who had a 0.49 ERA in 36.2 frames during the first half with the Cubs, struggled during his time with the White Sox and wasn’t nearly the shutdown guy he was with the crosstown rivals.
With the White Sox uniform, Kimbrel had a 5.09 ERA in 23 innings, with a 1.22 WHIP.
That’s not what the White Sox wanted.
Chicago May Look Into The Possibility Of Trading Craig Kimbrel
As a result, they may explore the trade market and look to get back some assets.
In fact, there have been several reports, albeit from unconfirmed sources, that they are indeed looking to move Kimbrel.
There has been nothing concrete, but there is already noise.
In fact, it makes sense, because there are a lot of teams that could use a reliever with a 2.18 career ERA in MLB, and a 2.26 ERA in 2021.
Reliever Kendall Graveman’s three-year contract with the #Whitesox will become official once he passes his physical, as @JonHeyman reported. It will pay him $24 million. The Sox now have $37 million in salaries for 2022 with Graveman/Hendriks/Kimbrel, w/ plans to trade Kimbrel
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 23, 2021
Here is a list of contenders that could really use a talent like Kimbrel in their bullpen: New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, and others.
Not every team in that list can afford to pay the $16 million he is scheduled to earn in 2022, though.
However, the Phillies are in desperate need of an arm like Kimbrel’s, for example, and the Angels are determined to improve their pitching staff as a whole.
There should be a taker for Kimbrel anywhere.
And, if they can’t find a partner, he carries serious bounce-back potential in 2022.
He is not as good as he was in the first half with the Cubs, but he is certainly not as bad as he was with the Sox.