Remember when DVD was going to be the new big thing in Arlington?
For a couple of years there we heard an awful lot about how John Danks, Edison Volquez and Thomas Diamond were going to do to the Rangers reputation what DVDs did to VCRs. The hype wound up being a bit more worthy of the moniker Laserdisc, though, because it turned out to be nothing but a mirage.
Diamond never panned out, a reminder of why prediciting the futures of pitching prospects is best left to a dartboard. Volquez went to the Reds and flourished, but you won't find anyone who would have rather kept him instead of Josh Hamilton. The Danks trade, for Brandon McCarthy, didn't work out at all as Danks turned into a good big league pitcher while McCarthy kept hitting the disabled list.
It was a mistake, but it is one that the Rangers could rectify this offseason. Dozens of names have been bandied about as pitching additions for this offseason, either to replace C.J. Wilson or to take over in the bullpen for Neftali Feliz and Danks is one of them. The wide belief around baseball is that the Rangers would be interested in reacquiring Danks for their rotation.
Whether or not the White Sox would be interested in such a deal is less clear. Their G.M. Kenny Williams indicated that they aren't looking to make a deal, but Danks is headed into his walk year and could bring Chicago some young blood as they transition from Ozzie Guillen to Robin Ventura. You get the feeling that a public pronouncement that they aren't looking to make a deal could be little more than an invitation for bids in hopes of landing a big package in return for a 27-year-old pitcher with a track record of success.
Danks' surface numbers weren't great in 2010 -- 8-12, 4.33 ERA -- but a look underneath shows he was a pretty similar pitcher to the one who thrived from 2008-2010. His strikeout rate improved while his walk rate declined, his Fielding Independent Pitching score was much better than his ERA and there wasn't any real red flag to make you think a downturn is coming. The ERA rise had a lot to do with an increase in home run rate and batting average on balls in play, two things which don't tend to be constant from year to year.
He'd be a good addition, then, but only if the price is right in a trade and in a contract after a trade. If you're going to give up a lot prospect-wise to acquire Danks, it can only be with the expectation of signing him to a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent after next season. If that isn't part of the deal, you can't part with much in the way of treasure to have a guy as a one-year rental.
Making any decision on this front is complicated by the team's uncertainty about Feliz's role. A Danks deal doesn't make sense if you're going to move Feliz to the rotation because you're going to shift your focus toward adding pieces to the bullpen. If you aren't making that move, then Danks is a perfect fit for the rotaton needs.