Cheers to Bryan for reminding us that there’s a minor transactional item to note now that the season has come to a close, leaving the Cubs a decision ahead.
Remember Kendall Graveman?
Kendall Graveman’s 2020 option is now officially $3 million. Graveman has a minor league option remaining, and would be under team control through 2021.
Graveman in four 2019 rehab app’s: 13.1 IP, 9 H, 2.03 ERA, 2 BB, 16 K, 1 HR-A.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) September 29, 2019
Recall, the Cubs signed the 28-year-old righty as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, paying him a big league minimum this year, and securing that $3 million 2020 option in the process. That decision will be due five days after the World Series ends, and although he doesn’t have enough service time for free agency otherwise, it was apparently built into his contract that if the Cubs decline the option, he will hit free agency.
There’s not a ton you can take from the numbers in Graveman’s limited rehab outings this year in the minor leagues, other than to note that he was clearly healthy by the end of the year.
Is he going to be worth $3 million and a roster spot despite not having pitched meaningfully since early 2018?
I tend to think yes! Before his injured year in 2018, he was persistently a low-4s ERA starter for the A’s, which was just about league average by ERA-. His FIP was a little bit higher, but he seems to have been a very good contact manager (low hard contact, high groundball rate), so the lower ERA was probably earned. To that end, a league-average starter isn’t something that’ll get you too excited, but any team would be happy to have a guy like that at the back of the rotation.
In the Cubs’ case, Graveman would actually most likely be depth for the rotation, while being optionable to AAA Iowa. That’s huge to have available on a contending team, and $3 million (plus a 40-man spot) seems a relatively small price to pay. And all that is to say nothing of potential upside – you never know whether a guy in his 20s will come out on the other side of surgery a little better than he was before – either as a starter or a reliever.
Unless Graveman’s rehab process showed the Cubs (in ways we can’t quite see from here) that he is extremely unlikely to be a contributor next year, even as a depth starter, then the Cubs should pick up that option and consider Graveman part of that 6th/7th/8th starter group, which would give them even more flexibility to decide how best to proceed with Tyler Chatwood’s contract this offseason.