With a long road to recovery ahead of him, the Chicago Cubs hope right-handed sinkerballer Kendall Graves can add depth to the team’s rotation in 2020.
Despite rehabbing from Tommy John surgery since late July, the Chicago Cubs agreed to terms with 28-year old right-handed starting pitcher, Kendall Graveman on a one-year deal worth $575,000 with a club option for 2020.
The move mirrors Drew Smyly‘s signing last offseason, however, comes at less of a risk as Smyly’s contract was a guaranteed deal worth $10M. Smyly was subsequently traded this past November to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later in a cost-cutting move on the part of the Cubs.
The signing does little in terms of contributing to the 2019 season as Graveman is not expected to pitch again in the Majors until 2020 although the team remains optimistic about a late ’19 return.
Graveman was drafted in the eighth round of the 2013 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays and quickly rose through the minor leagues with an impressive resume that included numerous sub-2.00 ERA seasons and a no-hitter. He made his Major League debut for Toronto in 2014 as part of the September roster expansion where he appeared in five games, posting a 3.86 ERA.
His career as a Jay was short lived as Graveman was dealt in November 2014 to the Oakland Athletics as part of a multi-player deal, which included Brett Lawrie, in exchange for superstar third baseman Josh Donaldson. He finished his rookie season with a 4.05 ERA in 21 starts and a 6-9 record. The following year, his first full season, he notched 10 wins in 31 starts.
When Oakland’s ace Sonny Gray started the season on the disabled list, the team tabbed Graveman as the 2017 Opening Day starter. Unfortunately, the season marked a string of injuries and trips to the disabled list. Appearing in only 19 games, Graveman went 6-4 with a 4.19 ERA over 105 1/3 innings pitched.
For the second consecutive season, Graveman was named the A’s Opening Day starter in 2018. After starting the season 0-5 with an ERA just below 9.00, he was demoted to Triple-A by the end of April before undergoing Tommy John surgery in July.
This recent signing of Graveman is a low-risk move for the Cubs. The team can only hope that Graveman has a resurgence post-recovery reminiscent of Ryan Dempster‘s in the mid-2000s.