White Sox will resume hunt for second baseman, right fielder when lockout ends
Kendall Graveman was a good start.
A standout relief pitcher, Graveman signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the White Sox on Nov. 30.
With Michael Kopech moving to the rotation next season, Craig Kimbrel likely to be traded and Ryan Tepera a free agent, Graveman brings needed help to the back of the Sox's bullpen.
A combined 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 10 saves in 53 games with the Astros and Mariners last season Graveman joined the White Sox on Nov. 30, two days before major league owners locked out the players and forced baseball's first work stoppage in 26 years.
"I just thought in the given market, that it was a fair deal," Graveman said. "And looking at what past free agents have received, I felt personally that if the right opportunity presented itself before Dec. 1 or 2, we should take it. The White Sox reached out very soon after I became a free agent and showed interest all the way up to the day we agreed to terms."
The Sox also brought back versatile veteran Leury Garcia on a three-year, $16.5 million contract before the game shut down, but they still have work to do when business gets back to normal.
Addressing holes at second base and in right field top the list and the White Sox are likely to go outside to fill one or the other, possibly both.
At second, Nick Madrigal was sent to the Cubs in the Kimbrel trade last summer. The Sox acquired Cesar Hernandez in a trade with Cleveland to presumably shore up the position, but it didn't work out.
After hitting .232/.309/.299 with 3 home runs and 15 RBI in 53 games, Hernandez's $6 million option for 2022 was declined. The free agent wound up signing joining the Nationals on a one-year, $4 million deal.
The Sox do have in-house options at second base if they choose to go that route.
"You see the list that we have on the roster, which would be a combination of Leury, Romy Gonzalez and Danny Mendick," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said last week. "Each of those players have some flexibility and versatility to them, which is part of their value. The season doesn't begin on Dec. 1, so we don't quite have to name a starting second baseman today."
A power bat in right field is another need, and Hahn indicated the Sox have the money if they're looking to land a free agent like Nick Castellanos and Jorge Soler, both right-handed hitters, or Michael Conforto, a left-handed bat.
Lefty Gavin Sheets, who hit 11 home runs in 179 plate appearances as a rookie last season, and right-hander Andrew Vaughn are right field candidates already on the Sox's roster.
Trading for a right fielder is the other possibility, and Hahn is also looking to deal Kimbrel.
Acquired on July 30 at a heavy cost, Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer went to the Cubs, Kimbrel willingly moved from closer to the eighth inning with the White Sox.
The switch was a disaster -- the right-hander was 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 24 games. The 33-year-old Kimbrel still has value as a closer, he had 23 saves and a sparkling 0.49 ERA in 39 appearances with the Cubs before joining the Sox. The right-hander has one more year on his contract at a cost of $16 million. "Look, we made no secret about the fact that how we used Craig last year didn't quite work to anyone's benefit," Hahn said. "Certainly, there's a spot for him on this club going forward but it's going to require us modifying potentially how that bullpen is deployed. Alternatively, I know his name has been out there for a fair amount in trade rumors, so if there's a possible fit out there, obviously it's our responsibility to pursue it."
Rule 5 draft
In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, the Cubs selected Conner Menez from the Giants on the first round. The White Sox selected Moises Castillo from the Cardinals.
A left-handed pitcher, the 26-year-old Menez appeared in 23 games (4 starts) with San Francisco over the last three years and was 2-1 with a 4.04 ERA.
Castillo, a 22-year-old infielder, split last season between Class AA Springfield and High A Peoria and batted .217 in 88 games while dealing with a hand injury.