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The Cubs and Kendall Graveman and a looming decision

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Yes, he’s still around.

The only known photo of Kendall Graveman in action in a Cubs uniform, throwing during a spring training workout February 13
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Kendall Graveman. Remember him?

The Cubs signed him to a one-year, $575,000 deal December 22, 2018, with a club option for 2020. The contract provided that if he spent one day on an active MLB roster in 2019, the $575,000 would be increased to $2 million. He didn’t, so the Cubs’ tax hit (and payment) for Graveman stayed at $575,000.

Graveman, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, wasn’t really expected to pitch in the big leagues in 2019. He did make two rehab starts: one for the AZL Rookie League Cubs August 22 (six strikeouts in three innings) and one for Triple-A Iowa September 1 (three innings, one run).

The reason I bring his name up now is this MLB Trade Rumors article, which notes this about Graveman’s deal:

The team will soon have to decide whether to exercise that option. While he’s still within the limits of arbitration eligibility, Graveman can’t be kept by that method. MLBTR has learned that his contract includes a provision requiring the club to release him if it does not pick up the option.

Further, according to the MLBTR article, Graveman has contract incentives for 2020 that could raise the $3 million base salary by an additional $2.5 million.

Frankly, I’m not seeing the upside here. Graveman isn’t a strikeout pitcher, as his career K rate is 5.8 per nine innings. He doesn’t really prevent baserunners either: career WHIP, 1.377. His career ERA of 4.38 (career FIP, 4.54) in 83 games (78 starts, 446 innings) doesn’t impress, either. Per Fangraphs, he has a decent fastball velocity (92.5) as well as a cutter, but he rarely goes beyond those two pitches, throwing those two more than 80 percent of the time.

Graveman has been on the 60-day injured list all season, so letting him go would not open a 40-man roster spot. Still, it’s my feeling that they should decline the option and move on. They could spend that money elsewhere, and have starting rotation options already in the system in Alec Mills or Adbert Alzolay.

Poll

Kendall Graveman...

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    ... exercise the option! Can’t hurt to have another starter in camp
    (189 votes)
  • 75%
    ... too much $ for this kind of production. Decline the option and look elsewhere
    (574 votes)
763 votes total Vote Now