Dank(s) You Sir, May I Have Another Five Years?

How’s that for rebuilding? Just weeks after general manager Kenny Williams announced the Chicago White Sox were starting from scratch, he has apparently signed John Danks to a five year, $65 million contract extension. Even though Danks would have been a useful trade chip, Williams decided to lock up the 26-year-old lefty — proving, once again, that Kenny Williams is one of the most unpredictable GMs in the game. With the White Sox in a rebuilding mode, was signing Danks the right decision?

On the surface, the price to retain Danks doesn’t seem exorbitant. To live up to the $65 million deal, Danks would have to post about 2.5 WAR every season for the next five years. In each of the past four seasons, Danks’ lowest single season WAR total has been 2.9 — so he’s certainly capable of maintaining the proper level of success over multiple seasons. Danks is still young, and he should remain effective throughout the length on the contract. And he’s also been incredibly durable over his career, making 124 starts over the past four seasons and throwing 778.2 innings — good for 12th in the American League during that period.

Even though there’s a decent chance that Danks lives up to the contract extension, the deal is still somewhat of a head-scratcher when you consider other pitchers’ extensions. Danks compares statistically to both Wandy Rodriguez and Chad Billingsley, both of whom signed for three years and roughly $30 million. Additionally, all three players signed their deals after logging about the same amount of service time — which made their situations very similar.

Still, despite an identical statistical profile as Billingsley and Rodriguez, Danks received $30 million more than either pitcher. Rodriguez is significantly older — and Billingsley is coming off a down year — but it’s tough to argue that Danks will be $30 million dollars better than either player during the next five seasons.

The move also is puzzling when considering the White Sox current state. Following the Sergio Santos trade, Williams declared that the team would be rebuilding this season. In that scenario, Danks seemed to be one of Chicago’s more valuable trade chips. After seeing what the San Diego Padres were able to get for Mat Latos, Williams should have been salivating over the potential offers he could have gotten for Danks. Those offers might not have been as strong for Danks — he’s older and only under team control for two seasons one season — but Danks has been worth more wins than Latos during the past two seasons (7.5 to 7.3). Since the White Sox have so many unmovable contracts, Danks was one of the few players who could have brought back some significant prospects.

Out of context, the deal looks pretty fair for the White Sox. Danks is good, young and left-handed. He should live up to the financial aspects of the contract.

When looking at the Billingsley and Rodriguez contracts, though, one has to wonder why Williams paid Danks significantly more money than the market seemed to dictate. The move is also interesting considering the White Sox are attempting to rebuild. Danks is still young enough to be considered part of that rebuilding process, but he could have brought back multiple pieces to a team devoid of useful farm-system players. The Danks extension won’t kill the White Sox, but giving him this much money right now certainly makes things confusing.

We hoped you liked reading Dank(s) You Sir, May I Have Another Five Years? by Chris Cwik!

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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Will
Guest

Rodriguez is so much older, he really shouldn’t even been mentioned as a comparison. Billingsley is very similar, but his contract represents one data point, so I am not sure why it should be a benchmark for Danks. That one deal does not represent the market. The real market is flush with cash and mediocre hurlers are cashing in. Danks is a 26 year old lefty who had a WAR around at least 5 in 3 of the past 4 seasons. Those kind of pitchers aren’t very valuable.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Are?

Will
Guest

Yes…the above should read “are very valuable”.

NS
Guest
NS

“Danks is a 26 year old lefty who had a WAR around at least 5 in 3 of the past 4 seasons.”

Have you been to his player page? I bet you have and you’re just totally ignoring it, calling rWAR “WAR” in response to a FG article. Awesome.

jim
Guest
jim

because rWAR is in any way less statistically valid?

NS
Guest
NS

^How could you get that from my comment? It’s the guy I responded to who is being presumptuous about the validity of the metrics. That’s exactly the thing I’m calling him out for.

The differences are well-known. To come to fangraphs and post a reply disagreeing with an article on the basis of “WAR” without specifying that the referent is rWAR is just obnoxious.

Generally it’s best to split the difference. In a case like this where fWAR and rWAR value a player so differently, citing only rWAR as a basis for disagreement without articulating any reason for doing so is a waste of everyone’s time.

Jake
Guest
Jake

Not to mention it makes it confusing too. I thought he went to the wrong player page at first.

Will
Guest

Give me a break. If you feel threatened by other versions of WAR, that’s your problem. When fangraphs becomes a closed forum for only those who adhere to its worldview, let me know. In the meantime, it’s just as valid to reference either version of WAR, or any other metric, for that matter.

Ari Collins
Guest
Ari Collins

You shouldn’t be called out for posting rWAR to FG. But I’m not sure you are being called out for that.

What you should be called out for is posting it as “WAR” on FG, where the assumption, rightly, is that you’re using fWAR.

Nothing wrong with other WAR calculations. Just make it clear which one you’re using.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb

Ari’s right. Referencing “WAR” on fangraphs’ site strongly implies that you are referencing fWAR. It’s disingenuous, therefore, to use bWAR to bolster your argument about how great Danks is without pointing out that you’re not using fWAR. Presumably, you elected not to use fWAR to bolster your argument because his fWAR is considerably lower. Perhaps that’s not the case but it certainly gives that impression since you only used bWAR to support your argument while failing to point out that you were ignoring fWAR, on fangraphs’ site, and using bWAR solely.

Will
Guest

That’s fair, but is that “obnoxious”? I prefer rWAR to fWAR, so, in my mind, its WAR and fWAR. I guess I don’t think of the fangraphs forum as an advocacy for its version of WAR, so I am not sure why anyone would be offended by a stream of consciousness.

What’s more, the comment was not based on the merits of one version of WAR vs. another. Danks is valuable based on either. Picking on nomenclature makes me suspect a turf battle, which is a waste of time.

Ari Collins
Guest
Ari Collins

Yeah, no one should have called you obnoxious. Just a good idea to clarify which WAR you’re using, especially since if you don’t specify, fWAR is assumed on this fWebsite.

Which is NOT the same thing as saying people here even prefer fWAR over bWAR. But it’s assumed that’s what you’re using if you don’t specify.

Better off specifying, so no one has to guess..