White Sox agree on deal with reliever Kendall Graveman

The right-hander agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal.

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Kendall Graveman pitches during Game 5 of the World Series  last month in Atlanta.

Kendall Graveman pitches during Game 5 of the World Series last month in Atlanta.

David J. Phillip/AP

The White Sox have made their first significant move of the offseason, agreeing to a three-year, $24 million deal with right-handed reliever Kendall Graveman, a source confirmed Tuesday.

The Sox aren’t expected to announce the deal until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

With right-hander Michael Kopech moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation, right-hander Ryan Tepera a free agent and righty Craig Kimbrel likely moving out via trade, Graveman, 30, fills a need at the back of the bullpen. He’s coming off his best season and was one of the top relievers on the free-agent market after he posted a 1.77 ERA and 0.982 WHIP over 56 innings with the Mariners and Astros.

In 30 games with the Mariners, Graveman posted a 0.82 ERA with 10 saves, allowing just 26 baserunners over 33 innings. On July 27, he was part of a four-player trade that sent him to Houston, where he pitched to a 3.13 ERA over 23 regular-season games. In nine postseason appearances with the Astros, he gave up two earned runs and seven hits over 11 innings.

A ground-ball pitcher for his first six major-league seasons — four of them with the Athletics — Graveman hiked his average fastball velocity to 96.2 mph this season, an increase of 2 mph, and raised his strikeout rate to 9.8 per nine innings after averaging 7.2 in 2020.

The defending American League Central champion Sox now have Graveman, left-hander Aaron Bummer and closer Liam Hendriks at the back of their bullpen. Hendriks was named AL Reliever of the Year for the second season in a row.

Kimbrel is an eight-time All-Star who struggled away from his customary closer role after the Sox acquired him in a trade-deadline deal with the Cubs for Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer. The Sox picked up his $16 million option for 2022, but general manager Rick Hahn said trading him this offseason is a possibility. The Graveman signing further increases that likelihood.

Graveman, a starter at the time, signed a contract with the Cubs after the 2018 season but did not pitch in the majors in 2019 as he was rehabbing after Tommy John surgery.

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