John Danks‘ contract has been an albatross for the last few seasons. With one year at $15.75 million left on his five year, $65 million deal, it is still considered well above market value.
At this point in his career, Danks is not much more than a number five starter which makes moving him and that contract a major hurdle. But it may not be an impossible task.
He can still a guy that can start 30-plus games per year. Even at the age 30 (will be 31 next April) Danks is capable of holding down the back end of a major league rotation. If a team is in desperate need of a back end starter, Danks is a comparable option to most fifth starters in the game.
With that, it will take a team with a lot of payroll flexibility, not to mention some strong top of the rotation starters to offset the potential struggles that Danks could have.
Pitching costs a lot on the trade market. A lot greater than market value. Danks is a pitcher that wouldn’t cost much at all. Considering his age, salary, and injury history, a mediocre prospect at best should be enough.
While he is a back end starter, there is more that a team must consider when they make deals in the offseason. Mortgaging the future for a pitcher whose value isn’t a whole lot more than a number two starter will win short-term, however long-term isn’t the best way to succeed. Trading for a pitcher such as Danks won’t help much short-term but it may help a team long-term by allowing a team to keep its top prospects.
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At the end of the day, it can never hurt to have too many pitchers. When you look at how many pitching injuries occur during a 162-game season, it helps to have as much depth as possible. If a team has six or seven major league caliber starters on their 40-man roster, it means there is a cushion for injuries to their starting staff.
I realize that Danks is not a front-line guy anymore, but a number five starter that has the ability to throw more than 180 innings has value. The league is starting to become a bullpen game and keeping those arms in the pen fresh throughout a full season is important.
All in all, pitching is at a premium in baseball. Danks may statistically be a below average pitcher with a bad contract, but if a team has a need for an innings eater, he is certainly an option. Otherwise, a return to the Southside in 2016 is likely.