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White Sox sign reliever Kendall Graveman

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The Chicago White Sox saw plenty of Kendall Graveman during the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros.

Now the reliever will try to help the Sox return to the postseason.

Graveman and the Sox agreed to a three-year, $24 million contract, the team announced Tuesday.

Graveman, who turns 31 on Dec. 21, gives the Sox another important late-inning option in the bullpen. The team has some open slots with Michael Kopech likely moving back to the rotation and Ryan Tepera a free agent.

Graveman excelled in that role in 2021 with the Seattle Mariners and Astros, posting a combined 5-1 record with a 1.77 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 53 relief appearances. The right-hander was 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA, 34 strikeouts and 10 saves in 30 outings with the Mariners and 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23 appearances with the Astros.

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

Graveman appeared in nine games in the 2021 postseason for the Astros, going 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11 innings.

He pitched in three of the four ALDS games against the Sox. He allowed one run on three hits with one strikeout, two walks and hit one batter in the best-of-five series, which the Astros won 3-1.

That hit by pitch, which came in the clinching Game 4, caught the attention of Sox manager Tony La Russa. Graveman plunked José Abreu in the eighth inning, which La Russa later called “intentional” and said he thought Graveman should have been ejected.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Audacy Sports initially reported Graveman’s impending signing on Nov. 23.

Graveman joins a Sox bullpen led by closer Liam Hendriks, the 2021 AL Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year. The Sox are debating the best fit for Craig Kimbrel — either keeping him or making a trade — after exercising a $16 million club option for 2022. Lefties Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet are also among the mainstays.

Graveman is the first big addition for the Sox this offseason. A starting second baseman is among the team’s major needs heading into 2022.

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