White Sox, Danks agree on five-year extension

White Sox, Danks agree on five-year extension

White Sox, Danks agree on five-year extension
CHICAGO -- Left-hander John Danks and the White Sox have agreed to a multiyear contract extension, the club announced Thursday. The five-year, $65 million deal is the largest given by the White Sox to a pitcher, in years and dollars.

"Obviously, I have a tremendous amount of respect for John and what he brings as a talent, but you know just the intangibles he brings," new White Sox manager Robin Ventura said when news of the potential extension broke last week. "Just every day, the competitiveness. He's an important part of what you would like to have as a person in the locker room."

Turning 27 on April 15, the Texas native was a logical choice to bring back with a long-term extension. He has surpassed 200 innings in two seasons and has made at least 30 starts in three.

Even in 2011, when Danks started 0-8 and had a 5.25 ERA after a highly forgettable start on May 29 in Toronto, he was able to bounce back to finish 8-12 with a 4.33 ERA and never complained about his early season struggles. He joined Tommy Thomas (1926-31) as the only pitchers in franchise history to make at least 25 starts in each of his first five seasons.

All that needs to be known about Danks' toughness can be seen in his performance against Arizona on June 18. Danks was struck flush in the back of the head by a Stephen Drew line drive in the fourth inning, and he not only stayed in the game but worked seven innings and threw 110 pitches to get the win.

He's a straight shooter with the media, not giving up on his team when it was struggling to catch Detroit in July and August, but readily admitting the trouble ahead when that gap grew in September. These qualities make Danks the perfect leader of the pitching staff, especially with Mark Buehrle departing to the Marlins via a four-year, $58 million free-agent deal.

"With Mark going, there's room for that person," said Ventura of Danks' leadership abilities. "And I think he kind of fits that."

Projections that the White Sox have no chance to catch the Tigers in the 2012 American League Central might not end up as completely accurate. Yes, Detroit is the division's gold standard, but there is no other team that clearly ranks head and shoulders above the rest among the remaining four.

As for the White Sox, if Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham bounce back offensively from extremely tough 2011 campaigns ...

If Jake Peavy is healthy and completes a rotation with Danks, Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber and Chris Sale ...

If younger, inexperienced players such as Dayan Viciedo, Addison Reed, Alejandro De Aza, Sale and Brent Morel make a greater impact ...

Well, that is a great deal of ifs. Those ifs all coming together could make Ventura's first year as manager an interesting one.

Rebuilding already had been downgraded to retooling, even after the Sergio Santos trade to Toronto. Now, with Danks in the fold for the long haul, it could be changed to reloading.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.