White Sox

Sox Drawer: Danks back; Kenny on 'rebuilding'

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Sox Drawer: Danks back; Kenny on 'rebuilding'

When a pitcher starts a season going 0-8, and finishes with the most losses (12) and highest ERA (4.33) since his rookie year, he is more likely to expect a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking than a five-year, 65 million contract extension.

But thats exactly what John Danks received from the White Sox, who announced the deal on Thursday.

Coming off the worst year of my career, I didnt expect this for sure, Danks said on a conference call with reporters.

Does this sound like a team thats rebuilding?

No, it doesnt. And no, they arent. Not in the standard blow-it-up style that has been described since Kenny Williams uttered the word rebuilding at the winter meetings. Everyone heard that part of the sentence. The sheer sound of it may have ruptured both your eardrums.

Kenny might as well have said, Weve re-hired Terry Bevington.

But what seems to have been lost, forgotten or ignored from that Williams press conference were the words he said immediately after using the dredded r-word.

Its the start of a rebuilding now, the White Sox general manager said on Dec. 6. Is it the start of a falling domino-type rebuilding? No. Absolutely not.

Yes, Williams did say those words. But as we know, actions speak much louder. So when the White Sox proceeded to trade Sergio Santos for a prospect and not re-sign Mark Buehrle on back-to-back days, it certainly looked and felt like the team was in full rebuild mode.

But Thursday Williams prefaced it again. Theyre not tearing down the walls, just hoping to get bigger, stronger bricks.

We are still in win mode, Williams said. But at the same time that youre in win mode, you can be in a little bit of a rebuilding phase, and I tried to articulate that, although I guess that message got lost after I said we were rebuilding. I tried to articulate that it wouldnt be dominoes falling in terms of a true rebuilding because we have too many good veterans, and veterans looking to bounce back.

Danks is one of them, although he wasnt sure if hed be having a comeback year with the White Sox or some other team. The lefty was a red-hot name in many trade rumors to places like New York and Texas, but his first choice was to return to the White Sox.

Obviously, there was a lot of trade talk, and you cant help but wonder and think, said Danks, whose mother kept him up to date on all the rumors. But I think I kind of took the attitude that until something happens I was going to prepare to be with the White Sox. Fortunately, this came along and I couldnt be happier.

Or more surprised.

Although the White Sox had tried to sign Danks to an extension in the past, talks between the two sides had cooled until John recently received a phone call from his agent, Jeff Berry.

It really did come out of nowhere, Danks said. It was a very quick negotiation.

The five-year deal is the longest the White Sox have ever given to a pitcher. Due to their unpredictability with results and health, Jerry Reinsdorf prefers to limit pitching contracts to three years. Under the terms of the agreement, Danks will receive 8 million in 2012 which was to be his final season of arbitration eligibility, and 14.25 million in each season from 2013-2016.

For those wondering if the White Sox might try to deal Danks around the trade deadline if the upcoming season goes south, that very likely wont happen. According to MLB.com, Danks has a full no-trade clause in 2012, and a limited no-trade clause over the next four.

With Buehrle gone, there are some pretty large shoes to fill, but Danks says hes up to the challenge, beginning with pitching on Opening Day which Buehrle did for the White Sox a record nine times.

If you dont want to pitch on Opening Day, youre in the wrong profession, he said. I dont know what direction they want to go, but if I get the opportunity, I would love it.

What about catching the ceremonial first pitch? Buehrle made it a tradition for every home game in which he wasnt the starting pitcher. In those cases, Danks would take over.

I guess its me, Danks said.

And despite coming off a 79-83 season, and losing their best starter (Buehrle) and closer (Santos) from last season, Danks is expecting a comeback season for the White Sox.

I like our chances. I really do. Im not just saying that, he said. Obviously, there were a lot of guys, myself included, that underperformed from their career averages. Theres guys with great long track records that had down years and it was just a perfect storm. We all kind of struggled. We have a lot of the same guys back, and are capable of doing the opposite of what we did last year.

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: