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 fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.