Kendall Graveman thrilled to join contending White Sox club that wanted him the most in free agency

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(670 The Score) For reliever Kendall Graveman, it was general manager Rick Hahn and the White Sox’s championship potential that made his decision to join the team in free agency the right one.

"I want to thank Rick Hahn during this whole process for being so upfront and professional,” Graveman said Tuesday. "They felt adding me will really help this club. I felt wanted here the most. I wanted to go to a team that was a contender.”

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Graveman signed a three-year, $24-million contract, which the White Sox officially announced Tuesday. He’ll join a bullpen that was solid in posting a 3.97 ERA in 2021, a mark that tied for 10th in MLB, but Graveman wants to help take it to the next level.

Graveman posted a 1.77 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 53 appearances split between the Mariners and Astros in 2021, when he was dealt from Seattle to Houston in late July. Graveman spoke with a few White Sox players, including closer Liam Hendriks, before making his decision.

“They all talked about how Hahn was so easy to talk to, that he was an open book,” Graveman said. “He said we can get better in this (bullpen) department. I think that is huge because not all GMs communicate this way.”

Graveman projects to fill a setup role for the White Sox, as the team told him Hendriks will continue to be their closer. The addition of Graveman also gives the White Sox more flexibility to trade reliever Craig Kimbrel this offseason. Kimbrel was spectacular as the Cubs’ closer in 2021 but struggled mightily in a setup role for the White Sox, who acquired him in July. He had a 5.09 ERA in 24 appearances for the White Sox, who will look to trade him this offseason, according to reports.

Graveman was originally a starter at the MLB level before health issues forced him to the bullpen. He had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and also was sidelined for part of 2020 with a benign bone tumor in his cervical spine.

"The bullpen was the only viable thing I could do to continue my career,” Graveman said. “Going to the bullpen was the only way I saw being able to keep my career alive. By the grace of god, I was blessed to fit in this role.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.