Hot Stove Targeting: John Danks

Young, Lefty & Established -

John Danks is a coveted young, 26-yr old lefty for the Chicago White Sox.  He is in his final year of arbitration, meaning he is eligible to be a Free Agent at the end of the season.  With Chicago’s ace Mark Buehrle on the Free Agent market right now, the cost-cutting Sox may need to decide which of these lefties to sign long-term and which to let go.

Positives

Danks has been a succesful lefty starter in the American league for the last 4 years and at 26, is still improving. The sturdy 6’2″ 220 pounder missed 5 starts this season and pitched into a lot of bad luck.  He had the 11th worst run support in MLB (3.49 runs per game) and a very high .313 BABIP, including an improbable .266 BA on ground balls.  That’s a lot of grounders that found holes.  This explains why he had a 4.33 ERA with a 3.79 xFIP.  He actually improved his Strikeout and Walk Rates over his previous 2 seasons so his 8-12 record and 4.33 ERA were truly mis-leading.

When you look at his success from 2008-10 when he averaged a 13-10 record, 3.59 ERA, 203 ip, K/9 over 7 and BB/9 under 3, you see the type of pitcher he is.

Year W L ERA IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2007 6 13 5.50 139.0 1.54 10.4 1.8 3.5 7.1
2008 12 9 3.32 195.0 1.22 8.4 0.7 2.6 7.3
2009 13 11 3.77 200.1 1.28 8.3 1.3 3.3 6.7
2010 15 11 3.72 213.0 1.21 8.0 0.8 3.0 6.8
2011 8 12 4.33 170.1 1.33 9.6 1.0 2.4 7.1
5 Seasons 54 56 4.03 917.2 1.30 8.8 1.1 2.9 7.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

His arsenal consists of a Fastball that averages 91.6 MPH and a Cutter & Change Up that are both Plus offerings. He also uses a Curve every now and then as a show-me pitch but it’s not an asset.  His Change & Cutter are effective pitches against both lefties and righties which gives Danks almost identical splits.

vs LH Batters he allows .265/.329/.403/.732 OPS

vs RH Batters he allows .252/.313/.411/.725 OPS

Negatives

After 3 consecutive excellent seasons, Danks was regarded as one of the best young pitchers in baseball and experts were predicting him to explode in 2011.  However, he received no run support and started the season 0-5 despite a 3.83 ERA.  The offense scored a total of 8 runs in those 5 losses and it started to effect Danks’ pitching.  He started to pitch poorly and by the end of May sat at 0-8 with a 5.25.  However, Danks didn’t pack it in and went on an 11 start run in which he went 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

After 3 straight seasons of at least 32 starts & 195 IP, Danks durability took a hit as he missed 5 starts this summer due to an oblique strain.  To his credit, he was strong when he returned from the injury, going 3-1 2.47 ERA in his first 7 starts.

Danks has shown some inconsistent velocity in his career which is a bit of a concern.  There are games where his FB his averaging in the 92-93 range then inexplicably, there are games where his average FB doesn’t exceed 90 MPH.  That is somewhat puzzling but sounds more like a case of a young pitcher losing his mechanics and/or arm slot at times.

A Fit for the Yanks?

IMO, Danks would be a perfect fit for the Yankees.  He is a legit 26 yr old left-hander who is still improving and has many good years to come as he has yet to enter his prime.  It’s a fact that southpaws benefit from pitching in Yankee Stadium so sliding him into the rotation with CC & Nova would give them a solid 1-2-3 for years to come.  Unfortunately, he’s in his last year of arbitration so he’ll be a Free Agent at the end of the season.  He’ll require a substantial commitment in dollars and years.  However, this is the type of pitcher the Yanks should be signing in Free Agency – established, yet young enough to be in his prime for the life of the contract.

From the White Sox’ perspective

The Sox don’t want to lose Danks but they have some tough decisions to make.  Fellow lefty Mark Buehrle is a Free Agent.  The durable Buehrle has been a rock in their rotation and has been a very popular figure in the Chicago clubhouse and to the fans.  The team has a lot of money already committed this year and rumor is Kenny Williams has been ordered to reduce the payroll.  If he brings Buehrle back, Wiliams will have to cut money somewhere and with Danks a year from his own Free Agency, it is unlikely they would be able to sign both lefties long-term.  So rather than keep Danks for one season, he could deal him to bring the team some badly needed young talent.  Young lefty Chris Sale is ready to step into the rotation and could take Danks’ spot.

Jim Callis of Baseball America says “there’s no question” the CWS have the worst farm system of any team.  Williams has been quoted as saying he would be looking for young MLB-ready impact players rather than A/AA ball level prospects if he trades anyone.  He has to say that because otherwise he’d be throwing this season away, but I  think the Yanks could offer him an attractive package of low & upper level prospects.

Cost for the Yankees

While everyone covets Montero & Banuelos, a realistic package for Danks would be something like Betances, Romine & Noesi.  Noesi would step into the rotation, Romine would backup Pierzynski and be the Catcher of the future and Betances would be a young stud maybe a year away.

Romine would be attractive to Chicago

Or perhaps a package of Gardner, Betances & a prospect OR Nunez, Betances & a prospect.  While Chicago fans may think I’m crazy and demand a combo of Montero, Gardner, Nunez & Betances, it is important to remember that the Yanks would only be getting one year of Danks and he is coming off a 8-12, 4.33 season.

Another possibility is perhaps the Yanks agree to take on either Adam Dunn or Alex Rios.  Both have 3 yrs left on their deals – Dunn for $44M & Rios for $38.5M.  Maybe CWS will eat half of one of those deals, ship them to NY with Danks for Romine, Noesi & Heathcott.  Chicago would save $20M+ over the next 3 seasons plus the $9M owed Danks.  They could use that cash to re-sign Buehrle and they’d also be receiving a MLB ready starting pitcher, a young Catcher who could apprentice a yr under A.J. then step in and a highly regarded OF prospect.  But unless Cash traded Swisher, Rios or Dunn wouldn’t get regular ABs.

What do you think?

Is Danks someone Cashman should target and if so, what would you be willing to give up? From a Chicago standpoint, if you are Kenny Williams would you trade Danks?  What would be a fair deal?

About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on November 6, 2011, in Hot Stove, Player Analysis and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Great job Fish. I’d pursue Danks (either in a trade this offseason-2012 season, or in free agency), without a doubt.

    He’s the exact kind of pitcher you’d like to see on the Yankees. Lefty and in his prime. I always like to see a pitcher who has a pitch for both righties and lefties. Danks has that fastball-change combo for righties, and a fastball-cut/slider-curve combo for lefties. That’s a very balanced arsenal. I’m always more hesitant on a lefty who just has a fastball and slider, because that’s not the best way to attack a right-handed batter. Danks definitely isn’t that way, which is great.

    • Yep—-All in favor of pursuing Danks or better yet Gio along with Darvish. Keep our picks, offer Freddy, and gain 1 less he accepts. What up with this Cuban OFer?? any thoughts?

      • John – I only know what everyone else read about Cespedes (the Cuban OF) but I say SIGN HIM UP!

        The Yankees number 1 assett is their cash and this guy will cost them nothing but cash….no players, no prospects, no draft picks. Yanks have no OF prospects in the upper levels of their system.

        If Cespedes is what they say….a 26 yr old CF with tremendous speed/power/arm….he’s gotta be signed.

  2. What are you smoking? He’s got one year of control left and we’re suggesting he’s worth Betances, Nunez and Noesi? Are you kidding me? Nunez is Cano 4 years ago, young, talented and blossoming! He’s going to be a 20/20 player in 2 years and a 30/30 player in 4 at the most. Noesi is supposed to have a higher ceiling than Nova and Betances is probably already a #5 or sitting in the bullpen on half the teams in the majors. I say lets wait a year and get Danks for nothing but $$$.

    • Bob, that’s just not accurate.

      Nunez is Cano 4 years ago? Really?

      Noesi WAS supposed to have a higher ceiling than Nova, until Nova made vast improvements this year. Besides, even he did have a “ceiling” of a #3 starter, you can’t place all your money on that happening.

      Betances isn’t fully developed yet. He’s still a Triple-A pitcher. No team in their right mind would rush him to the majors this year anyway.

      As for the last sentence, yes, that’s an option. But you can’t get too selective about trades this offseason, because as of now, the Yankees aren’t a 2012 World Series team. Their rotation simply isn’t good enough. Anybody they have that would be their 3-5 starters would be question marks. You have to be careful about “lets wait a year”, as we have a season to win in 2012.

    • Bob –
      You have to give up something good to get something good. Everybody talking trade with the Yanks will ask about Montero & Banuelos but IMO they are the only 2 untouchables in the system.

      The yanks have 2 great assets….a lot of Catching prospects and a lot of pitching prospects in the AAA/young Major League ready level. Not all of these guys will pan out and even if they did, there are only so many spots on the roster.

      Your wild proclamation that Eduardo Nunez is going to be a 30/30 player is terribly irresponsible. I’m a huge fan/follower of our farm system but the FACT is that most prospects fail or are at best ordinary players. Phil Hughes & Joba Chamberlain were both suppossed to be #1 MLB starters a few yrs ago and look at them now.Brackman was a top of the rotation prospect and he was just cut.

      If you can get an established 26 year old lefty starter for 3 expendable prospects, you have to consider it. It would definitely hurt to lose them but you aren’t getting Danks for nothing and the Yanks have been looking for a #2/3 starter ever since it was apparent AJ Burnett was not that guy.

      If you wait a yr to get Danks you lose your #1 Draft pick and you lose Danks for 2012. Who would you get to pitch in 2012?

    • Bob –

      By the way, the article didn’t say Betances, Nunez & Noesi. It said the following:

      1) a realistic package would be Betances, Romine & Noesi.
      2) or perhaps Gardner, Betances and a prospect
      3) OR Nunez, Betances and a prospect

      By saying a prospect, I’m talking about an unnamed C-level prospect. Think along the lines of someone in the lower levels or outside the top 20 prospects.

  3. I’m not a Danks fan. I wouldn’t give up any of the Killer B’s for him. I’d give Romine and two 2nd tier starters, but I doubt that would even get the conversation started. I’m in the minority, but he just doesn’t do much for me.

    • Craig –
      Yeah I don’t think Romine and 2 2nd tiers would be enough. Who do you like for the Yanks to target? They definitely need to improve the rotation. I’d prefer CJ Wilson but don’t want to make the commitment in years/$ it will take to get him.

  4. are you out of your mind?

  5. [Comment erased by Yankees Fans Unite – Please keep comments on topic. We will have an open thread posted later, so comment about whatever you want there and then. Thanks.]

  6. I think Danks for Betances, Romine/Nunez and Noesi would be a great deal for both sides. The Sox don’t seem like they can afford to keep Danks and they get what KW is looking for. The Yanks get what they are looking for in a young pitcher that won’t even get the money that CJ Wilson will get in the market.

  7. Your analysis is spot on, but what it will take to acquire him is far far far off. We got Javy vazquez, who was coming off a cy young caliber season for melk, dunn, and the best prospect of the deal was in A ball. It would take Betances to get this done by himself or romine plus a B prospect.

    • chuck…..is not Danks a free agent after this season? A lot to give up, and have for just one season.

    • Thanks Chuck.
      But I doubt we could get Danks for Romine and a prospect.

      Lets look at the Javy trade. He was coming off a good season but was 33 with a spotty track record and a $11.5M salary. The price was:

      1) Arodys Vizcaino – #2 prospect of yanks, #69 overall by Baseball America
      2) Melky Cabrera – 24 yr old starting CF, had .752 OPS
      3) Mike Dunn – was Yanks #7 prospect, 24 yr old MLB-ready pitcher

      Now Danks is not coming off a great yr but over the last 4 seasons he is the #17 pitcher in MLB in fWAR, is 26 yrs old and will make around $8.5M.

      So the price for Javy was a stud pitching prospect in the top 100 overall (AVizcaino), a young MLB hitter at a premium position(Melky) and a highly regarded MLB-ready pitcher (Dunn).

      If the Yanks had to match that asking price now, it would be:

      1) Stud Pitching Prospect – Betances #3 prospect of Yanks, ranked #43 overall by BA
      2) MLB hitter at premium position – Yanks have 3 guys, either Gardner(CF), Romine (C) or Nunez (SS)
      3) MLB-ready pitcher – Noesi, 24-yr old MLB-ready pitcher, yanks #7 prospect

      So I don’t think I’m too far off in what the price would be. If you think it’s not worth that price, that is fine. In my opinion, it probably isn’t worth giving up that much since I think we gave up way too much for Javy. But we will not be getting a pitcher of Danks’ caliber for Romine and a throw-in prospect. Personally, i would target a Free Agent like CJ, Darvish, Buehrle or Oswalt we could get for just Money and pick.

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