Could the White Sox actually trade John Danks?

In a day of trade news about guys who were better a couple of years ago, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees and White Sox have had early conversations about trading John Danks. J-O-H-N D-A-N-K-S. Such news call for a roundtable. James Fegan, Collin Whitchurch and Nick Schaefer participated. Matt Adams, was at the game at the time.

James: So...yes, right? The answer is yes?

Collin: John Danks for Gary Sanchez or J.R. Murphy, plz.

James: No, I said J-O-H-N D-A-N-K-S. The guy with the surgeries.

Collin: In all seriousness, you do this in a heartbeat, regardless of the return. I’ve had my eyes on Sanchez and Murphy (the Yankees’ two top catching prospects) since spring training and that return would be great, but regardless of who they get in return — a couple of young lotto tickets — you do this deal.

I’ve gone on the record as saying anything you can do at this point to improve A) your farm system and B) your draft position for 2015, is a bonus. This deal would do that and also shed some unwanted salary off the books for the next two years.

I also think the trade market for starting pitchers has turned a bit since the Samardzija-Hammel trade. Murphy and Sanchez, while highly rated in the YANKEES’ system, aren’t exactly Top 100 prospects, so I don’t think the demand would be ridiculous.

Murphy is further along, 23 with a cup of coffee with the team both late last year and earlier this season. Sanchez is 21 and currently OPS-ing .799 at Double-A Trenton.

Nick: I think Gary Sanchez is considered to be a Top 100 guy. Yankee prospect hype is a dangerous, insidious thing, though. I don’t think you can expect something like that for Danks. Although I was surprised that Hammel was considered a significant piece in a major trade like that, and although there aren’t a ton of arms on the market, Danks is just SO expensive, and SO mediocre at this point in his career.

I think you do it even as a salary dump if you plan on making a major move for next year. If they want to be in the running for say, Scherzer - which is completely outside of their character/organizational history, but then again, they’ve been doing a lot of things under Hahn that they wouldn’t have before - then you need to free up as much money as possible.

Sale-Scherzer-Quintana could pretty much make them contenders by themselves.

Collin: You’re right that I might be overvaluing Danks in looking at Sanchez and Murphy, but you’d have to imagine that’s where the White Sox start.

My question (and I think I know the answer): Would you rather eat a decent amount of Danks’ contract to get a legit prospect or do a straight salary dump and get nothing significant in return? The Yankees just RECEIVED money from San Diego in the Chase Headley deal, so… yeah. File that under “things that don’t make the slightest bit of sense.”

James: Gentlemen, gentlemen. John Danks is bad.  He’s better than we feared he might be but he is not a good pitcher. He has a 92 ERA+ for the year, last year he had a 89 ERA+. Defenses of him include the phrase “If he stopped getting lit up by the Astros…” He’s been better since the “mechanical adjustment,” but mechanical adjustments are constantly occurring things, not permanent fixes. His peripherals remain awful. His type of shoulder injury offers high potential for recurrence, so he doesn’t even promise the Jason Vargas assurance of “Well, at least he’ll always be there.” This is a player you never talk about dealing because the opportunity never comes.

Nick: Danks is the type of average where there’s a wide spectrum of starts. He has 12 quality starts so far this year, and a lot of them were really, really good just from an innings/runs angle. And then there are the days where he has nothing and he just gets annihilated.

Collin: I’m not arguing that John Danks is good! But you only need one idiot team and one idiot general manager to be desperate enough to think he helps their pennant chances and maybe the Yankees are that idiot team and Brian Cashman is that idiot general manager. You’d have to think Cashman is under enormous pressure to make the playoffs this season, as nonsensical as that may be.

James: From a win probability angle, isn’t the guy who gives you 50/50 odds to win in the vast majority of starts, then 5% chance of winning in a handful of outings, pretty on par with someone who gives you a 40% chance everyday?

Collin: The Yankees’ rotation currently features something called Shane Greene and something called Chase Whitley. THEY’RE DESPERATE.


Sorry for yelling.

James: I have a friend who tells a fun story about facing David Phelps in practice at Notre Dame. DAVID PHELPS IS DEATH TO WALK-ON CATCHERS.

Normally, I abide by Nick’s principle of sacrificing money to get prospect return, but I assume there are no prospects on the table here, so I’m overjoyed to see a cash-rich team come along that might eat more of this deal than they should.

Nick: Yeah I don’t think that’s the situation here. One would have to imagine there’d be a reason for freeing up that money beyond just for money’s sake. I suppose $14 million a year is another fourteen $1 million bullpen lotto tickets!

Collin: YOU get a Mitchell Boggs! And YOU get a Mitchell Boggs! And YOU get a Mitchell Boggs!

Nick: This offseason the guys available, at the moment, are: Scherzer, Lester, Shields, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz, Pablo Sandoval…

Also a Cuban named Yasmani Tomas who is a 23-year old outfielder with “70 power.”

I am so down with the White Sox becoming the Cuban National Team + Sale.

Collin: I wrote about Tomas a while back. From what I’ve read, he smells like a Viciedo.

James: I want James Shields mostly to screw with the Royals

Nick: I guess financial flexibility is always a good thing, but I guess if they went for the pure salary dump I would want them to actually be doing it with some sort of plan in mind. Even if not a specific player, but if it’s like, “Add huge free agent this offseason to compete in 2015” in a general sense, or do the 2013 Indians “Add two mid-range free agents as positions of need”, that works too.

Hanley Ramirez might be an interesting fit for the White Sox. I don’t know how he feels about 3B. If Matt Davidson’s bat develops the way you might hope maybe he just shares 1B/DH with Abreu next season.

James: Kinda thinking we should just hope Davidson’s bat can make him a good third baseman. If he had a 1B-quality bat I don’t think the Sox would have him for Addison Reed.

Fun fact I saw today. Addison Reed has a career 100 ERA+.

Nick: I mean, that’s the front office that traded Skaggs and Eaton for Trumbo, and Justin Upton for Martin Prado. So maybe you do.

Collin: Since we’re going off-topic, Ben Lindbergh wrote a thing for Grantland today where he said Adam Dunn to the Brewers makes a lot of sense.


Nick: I’ve written that a few times, actually. Brewers and Mariners make a ton of sense to me. No idea why there isn’t more momentum there.

James: Can’t wait till Lindbergh excerpts this into a larger fan-mocking post.

Nick: I was going to avoid bringing that up.

Collin: Back to the original point… maybe I’m too enamored with the White Sox having a good farm system long-term, but dammit I want some prospects! I agree that IF Danks is a salary dump, it should be because they plan to shell some cash at a big name this offseason. But if it’s not, and if Rick Hahn has more patience, I’m all for eating some of Danks’ salary for SOMETHING with at least a little bit of upside.

My patience with this team might be a little stronger than the average fan, but I’ve never really expected the White Sox to contend in 2015. I like the idea of them — not necessarily doing what the Astros and Cubs are doing — but building a solid foundation of minor leaguers where they either pan out for you on the field or you end up using them as trade chips ala Oakland and St. Louis.

Nick: If it’s any comfort, it’s looking like thanks to the Astros, the White Sox wound up with the best player in this year’s draft. Rodon rated #10 overall for Keith Law’s post-draft Top 50 prospects update.

I know what you mean where the organization was playing super short-sighted and mortgaging the future for so long that only 1.5-years of long-term planning might seem too short. But there are these teams that get stuck in these death spirals. I remember last year seeing like, “Maybe the White Sox should deal Sale! Long-term move!” when it’s like - okay, at a certain point you need pieces at the major league level. You can’t just graduate 25 fully-formed prospects simultaneously when you decide to compete. Yes, Sale would get you a ton in return, but there’s a reason for that.

James: Look at it this way: The Sox rotation needs at least two guys. Someone like Danks or Noesi (88 ERA+ with the Sox) is fine at No. 5. Maybe Rodon is one of them and replaces, say Scott Carroll. If they cleared out more space for a new addition by say, DFA’ing Hector Noesi, would anyone think anything of it? Trading Danks would be losing someone of similar performance, and clearing out more resources for a more fitting replacement.

Now, I haven’t been a fan of Hector Noesi for most of a decade, so that would be a difference, but I think the most important thing John Danks’ career taught me in my early 20’s, is that that stretch where you think things are promising, and greatness could be on your horizion...that’s your peak. The rest is pain.

Farewll, tragic hero. May you forever be gutting out a surprising six innings after getting bombed in the first.

Nick: As it stands right now, the White Sox have ~$45 million committed in salary for 2015 pre-arbitration. Granted, there are a ton of guys entering Arb 2 and 3 who stand to make a fair amount of money when you add it all up. De Aza, Beckham, Viciedo, Belisario, Flowers, Jones, Noesi, etc. probably stand to eat up another what…$25 million?

But if they can dump 100% of Danks’ contract, that puts them at $50-55 million in payroll commitments, which should give them $30-50 million to play with in the offseason at least.

As far as where they think they need help right now, if they want to compete next year...Theoretically ⅔ outfield spots are solved, although that depends on how sanguine you are about Avisail coming back from injury. One of 1B/DH is Abreu and that rules. Alexei is an above average shortstop. Then there’s a whole bunch of places that could be upgraded pretty easily.

Collin: Maybe Heyman meant Jordan Danks?

James: Did Beltran succumb to his injuries?

Collin: I say you, he dead.

Nick: If the White Sox signed Scherzer and Hanley Ramirez one would have to figure they’d be the favorites for the AL Central in 2015 right?

More realistic and in-character would be adding a mid-level guy like Russell Martin, which would solve a huge need, and would probably be more of a 4/$44 type contract, I would think.

Collin: I like Russell Martin quite a bit but I don’t think I’d give four years to a catcher who will be 32 at the start of next season and has already logged more than 9,000 innings behind the plate.

James: Maybe soon all catchers will be terrible.

Collin: Then your friend from Notre Dame can play in the majors!

James: I think he tore his ACL. I mean, who hasn’t?

Nick: I don’t think Danks brings back any of Judge, Sanchez, or Severino. I suppose Murphy isn’t completely unrealistic. Theoretically one of the White Sox’ minor league MIF depth guys could be a useful throw in to the Yankees, although less valuable now that they have Headley.

Collin: I want Aaron Judge for the headline puns. Or Slade Heathcott because what a sweet name.

Nick: The other benefit of Heathcott is that he has two pretty cool pet cats.

It wouldn’t be the worst idea to buy low on some of the Yankees’ fallen outfield prospects - I feel like Heathcott/Mason Williams and uh...who is it, Tyler Austin? Are the three guys who have had two years that have greatly diminished their value.

James: I just don’t understand why they need to give anyone worth a damn. They could give us Dante Bichette. Not even his kid. The old guy.

Collin: I like to unreasonably assume the White Sox are going to get awesome prospects for their crappy veterans, OK? Gosh.

Nick: Okay well, at the risk of repeating myself, I guess I would sum up by saying, I’d be fine with it as a salary dump, or if they eat money and get something of substance in return. When I say substance I don’t even mean something amazing.

The only problem would be what it would do to the White Sox rotation this year. I mean, not that I care that it scuttles their 1% playoff hopes or whatever, but I wouldn’t want young arms shredded trying to cover the innings Danks would soak up otherwise.

James: What’s Brett Myers doing? Wait, I don’t want to know. Call the police. Just have them check on the place. Pick up Sergio and have him start.

Collin: The only really depressing thing about this is wondering who will take Danks’ innings. Are we really going to have to watch Carroll/Rienzo/Noesi pitch in ⅗ of the games the rest of the season?

James: Phil Humber is checking his nearby Greyhound schedule as we speak.

Collin: Good lord, we’re on page 6. Nobody is reading this whole thing.


What about Danks AND Viciedo/De Aza?!

James: So Cashman is dead and tabbed his ferret as his successor before he went?

Collin: I’m sorry, you guys.

Nick: I don’t concede that Brian Cashman is an idiot GM, by the way, Collin. It’s impossible to sort out what he actually wanted to do and what ownership wanted him to do, and what decisions were distorted by PR orders.

Collin: I didn’t say Cashman is an idiot. I just said he might be an idiot. There’s always hope! Jackie Z, on the other hand…

James: I’m hesitant to say any GM is straight-up idiotic. But they have flaws, and outside pressures, injuries, mishaps, bad development and desperation can bear them out. I think Cashman is very sharp, but if he's looking to Danks for help. He’s desperate.

Collin: I’m obviously being flippant with my idiot tags on these guys…

James: It’s ok, they’re cool with it.



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