Rebuilding Will be Complete Once John Danks is Gone
By Louie Penna
Sep 3, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks (50) looks on in the pouring rain during the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
It’s about that time of the year again. The time where the White Sox start planning for another early offseason to start focusing on the younger talent, as well as the new players the team will be hoping to bring in from free agency. In my own personal opinion, for this young team right in the middle of their rebuilding process, one move still must be made before the White Sox are ready to compete. The move that must be made is getting John Danks out of Chicago.
Let’s start with a little background info for anybody not familiar with the southpaw. John Danks was a first round pick, ninth overall in 2003. He was acquired by Chicago in 2006 in a trade with the Rangers involving Brandon McCarthy. Going into the 2007 season, Danks was considered one of the top prospects in the White Sox system, and was selected to be in the starting rotation.
The left-hander saw moderate success in his first few years, winning 46 games in his first four seasons. Besides his 5.50 ERA in 2007 (rookie season), he pitched well from 2008-2010, compiling respectable ERAs of 3.32, 3.77, and 3.72. He was also averaging a little over 200 innings a year in those 3 seasons.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
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Fast forward to 2012. After a few fairly solid seasons for the young left-handed pitcher, Danks requires shoulder surgery, ending his season with just 9 games started. The left-hander has not looked the same ever since. After a 2013 season that Danks was hoping to clear from his memory for good (4-14 4.75 ERA), he has seen his 2014 season go almost the same way. Danks is currently 10-11 with a 4.82 ERA in 186.2 innings pitched, and has yet to hit 200 innings in a season since 2010. While his season this year has not been the huge mess his 2013 season was, the progression just simply has not been there since the surgery.
The best part about Danks’ 2013-2014 seasons? He is getting 14.25 million for each season. As well as two more seasons after that.
I will not put all of the blame on Danks, as shoulder surgery can be very tough to rebound from. I can’t exactly blame the White Sox front office either, as Danks was set to be this team’s new version of Mark Buehrle. Surgery can be tricky, and while we still may have not seen Danks at his full potential yet since the surgery, I feel like his best years are already behind him.
So, what could we possibly get for the struggling 29-year-old lefty with shoulder problems in his past?
To be frank, probably not much. Even though that is what the idea was with getting rid of Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza. The White Sox didn’t receive absolute studs for any of these three guys (not that they should have), but they more than likely made their farm system better at the very least, instead of receiving nothing. If the White Sox plan on keeping Danks through 2016, his final contract year, I fear that is what they will end up with. Trading him sometime in 2015 or 2016 for anything will be better than just letting him go. Although I suppose if losing him to free agency means that the White Sox paid him off, it is still a move in the right direction.
John Danks currently has the 2nd most expensive contract on the team, behind only Jose Abreu (who has earned every penny thus far). The 29-year-old lefty is not set to be a free agent until the 2016 season is finished. Even with the huge contract, I don’t see any point in keeping him in our future plans, let alone the rotation. If the team is serious about trying to make a playoff push within the next few years, I don’t see how they can reasonably consider Danks nothing more than a #5 starter, especially with Carlos Rodon set to (likely) take over a rotation spot right out of Spring Training next season.
It wouldn’t surprise me though at all if John Danks ended up staying in Chicago for all of next year (with the money he is owed), and possibly 2016 as well to finish his contract. If the Sox were to get rid of him, I’d imagine they would have already done that sometime this past trade deadline, when the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees showed interest in him. Hopefully there will be more teams interested next year.
The upsetting part of all this is John Danks seems like a pretty good guy.
I can’t say I’ve ever heard a bad thing about him. He seems to really get along with all of his teammates. Not to mention, his brother, Jordan Danks, is right there in the dugout with him. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to put feelings aside, and look out for what’s best for the team. It is a business, after all. If there is anything that’s been apparent the past few years, it’s this. John Danks simply isn’t a good pitcher anymore. Blame it on the surgery, the huge contract, I don’t know. I do know one thing though. Until he is gone, I can’t truly believe this team is ready to compete for a future playoff run.
We didn’t come this far in rebuilding just to see one of the biggest problems on our team stay there. Unfortunately, all we can do is wait and see what will happen with John.
Feel free to comment if you agree or disagree on what should happen with John Danks.