Danks hopes to get deal done with Sox
Young left-hander has multi-year ambitions for South Side
CHICAGO -- The words "job security" and John Danks probably won't come into play during the length of the left-hander's tenure on the South Side of Chicago.
Not when at the ripe old age of 24, Danks seems to be just beginning to reach his full potential as one of the American League's elite starters.
Nonetheless, Danks enters the 2010 campaign hoping to be contractually beholden for a number of years to the White Sox team giving him this particular chance to shine on the mound.
"It would be nice to have the security," said Danks, who has that security, even if he doesn't officially possess it in writing. "I'm very excited to sign a multi-year deal."
That excitement level for Danks doesn't quite carry over to signing any deal put in front of him by the White Sox. After presenting these same basic long-term contract thoughts during the offseason leading into 2009, Danks and Gavin Floyd, a pair of young rotation cornerstones, were offered four-year, $15.5 million extensions last March, with a $9.5 million option for 2013.
Floyd accepted the deal, but despite Danks' high level of loyalty to the franchise, he turned it down, with advice from Jeff Berry, his representative. Some eight months later and with a second straight season of starting success behind him, Danks looks back at this decision without regret but also looks forward to another multi-year opportunity.
"We are not talking yet," said Danks, when asked about renewed contract discussions with the team. "But [general manager] Kenny [Williams] and [assistant general manager] Rick [Hahn] are probably looking at the World Series to finish up and then go from there with this team.
"They didn't have to make the offer that they made to me, and I understand the situation I'm in. I'm not a free agent. I don't have quite the leverage someone like [Mark] Buehrle had."
This current offseason actually marks Danks' first year as arbitration eligible. After posting a career high with 13 victories, making at least 30 starts for a second straight season and doing the same with producing an ERA under 4.00, not to mention topping 200 innings for the first time in his three years as part of the rotation, Danks is certain to get a nice bump from the $520,000 he earned in 2009.
An even better piece of news for Danks is that he feels healthy, not presently bothered by a strange blister problem on the tip of his left index finger, which also came with circulation issues, costing him a start in July. Danks took some extra time off at the end of the season because of feeling "beat up," with general soreness in his back and legs.
But after attending a NASCAR race this weekend in Ft. Worth, Texas, Danks will be ready to start working out for 2010. That preparedness includes a trip back to Chicago to get his finger checked out for what he hopes will be one last time.
"Everything is good, and while I haven't thrown a baseball, I anticipate being 100 percent back to normal and not worrying about anything like that," said Danks of his finger. "I'm looking for them to say, 'Everything is good. See you in Spring Training.'
"We had numerous vascular specialists tell us different things, so I think it's still up in the air. We don't really know, but as long as I don't have to worry about it, I don't care."
All of Danks' baseball concerns will fall upon his continued climb as a front-line starter, trying to become "a top-10 pitcher in the American League" and "win as many games as I can for the White Sox," from his own list of goals.
If along the way, a longer-term agreement is reached between Danks' camp and the White Sox, then that's an exciting piece of on-the-job security for an affable individual who figures to be a key Chicago sports figure for years to come.
"I did hire an agent, and I pay him to make the right decision and the best decision for me," Danks said. "Hopefully, we can get together. I'm not trying to break the bank -- just looking for a deal fitting for me."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.