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Graveman agrees to deal with Mariners 

Veteran starter has one-year contract with '21 option
@gregjohnsmlb
November 26, 2019

SEATTLE -- Kendall Graveman may be new to the Mariners after signing a one-year free agent contract on Tuesday. But the 28-year-old right-hander is no stranger to the American League West, nor the idea of joining a young team looking to make its mark going forward. The former A’s starter,

SEATTLE -- Kendall Graveman may be new to the Mariners after signing a one-year free agent contract on Tuesday. But the 28-year-old right-hander is no stranger to the American League West, nor the idea of joining a young team looking to make its mark going forward.

The former A’s starter, who spent last year recovering from Tommy John surgery while with the Cubs, will provide rotation help for the rebuilding Mariners in 2020. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported the deal is for $1.5 million for this coming season. It also includes a $3.5 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2021.

“There’s opportunity here to pitch and compete,” Graveman said. “You see the team Oakland has put together now. We were a bunch of young guys a few years ago, and I have the same feel with Seattle.”

Graveman has two goals in mind. One is to resurrect his own career after being limited to just a pair of rehab games in the Cubs’ Minor League system late last season. The other is to be part of something special with his new club, and he expressed that to Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto after passing his physical exam on Monday in Seattle.

“It’s no secret they haven’t been to the playoffs in [18] years,” Graveman said. “I was talking to Jerry yesterday about, ‘Why not?’ I want to come to this organization and help them get in the playoffs and win a World Series. They’ve never done that. Those aren’t things that shouldn’t be spoken about.

“I believe there’s power in words and the things we do. If we go about our business the right way, it excites me to be on that journey with them. That’s one of main reasons I chose Seattle over some other opportunities. It does excite me. They’ve been awesome and made me feel like family even before I signed.”

Graveman went 23-29 with a 4.38 ERA in 78 starts for the A’s from 2015-18, including a 1-5 mark and 7.60 ERA in seven starts his final season before undergoing right elbow surgery in July. He was Oakland’s Opening Day starter in '17 and ‘18.

“Kendall is a great bounce-back candidate,” Dipoto said. “His makeup is off the charts, and we've done a fair bit of homework on him from his time in Oakland and more recently in Chicago. He was a workhorse, ground ball-oriented pitcher, with whom we saw a velocity spike prior to his Tommy John surgery.

“We really trust him and his ability to consistently throw strikes. At 28 years old, he has the ability to stay in our system for a period of time and gives us something to look forward to.”

The A’s non-tendered Graveman after his Tommy John surgery, and he signed with the Cubs while rehabbing last year. But Chicago chose not to exercise a $3 million team option for 2020 earlier this month, making him a free agent.

If healthy, Graveman’s addition provides the Mariners some experienced rotation depth to go along with returners Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi. The club also expects Justus Sheffield to open the season in the rotation, with fellow prospect Justin Dunn also in the running.

Graveman says his elbow is feeling strong again. He’s begun light throwing in the past two weeks while preparing for a normal offseason as he and his wife move into a new home in Birmingham, Ala.

One big plus for Graveman is he’s a sinkerball pitcher who gets a lot of ground balls, which is a good trait given the continued upward trend in home runs in Major League Baseball.

“There’s no secret that guys are hitting balls harder these days,” he said. “There’s a lot of analytics behind exit velocity and all that. But I’m a firm believer, if you can keep the ball in the park and limit walks, solo homers won’t kill you. That’s a huge key and bigger than ever right now.”

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.