The recent five-year, $65MM extension given to John Danks came as a surprise to the baseball community for two main reasons. For starters, it was the first time the club has ever given a five-year contract to a pitcher, as owner Jerry Reinsdorf prefers to keep pitchers on deals of three years or less. Secondly, it seemed to contradict GM Ken Williams' statements from earlier in the month. Soon after trading reliever Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays, Williams spoke to reporters and invoked the R-word: rebuilding.
However, earlier this week, Williams clarified his comments and explained his gameplan for the near future:
"We are still in win mode,” the GM said. “But at the same time that you’re 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 wouldn’t be dominoes falling in terms of a true rebuilding because we have too many good veterans, and veterans looking to bounce back.”
Last week, MLB.com's Scott Merkin wrote that the White Sox's true intentions can best be gauged by keeping an eye on veterans Carlos Quentin, Matt Thornton, and Gavin Floyd. With one of the three now out of the picture, it will be very interesting to see how Williams & Co. operate in the early months of 2012. Thornton, 35, will earn just $12MM across 2012 and 2013 with a club option for 2014. Meanwhile, with Matt Garza potentially on the move, Floyd could be one of the most attractive starters left available on the trade market.
Moving Quentin, who should earn about $7.5MM this season through arbitration, definitely helps to ease costs, as does offloading Jason Frasor's modest $3.75MM salary. However, the club is still saddled with hefty, multi-year commitments to both Alex Rios and Adam Dunn.
It seems that the White Sox are looking to start fresh, but the Danks extension shows a desire to remain competitive in the short-term. If you were in the driver's seat, what direction would you look to take the club?