Veteran left-hander John Danks is aiming for a comeback in 2017, tweets FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The 31-year-old was released by the White Sox back in May after a woeful start to the season, but if he’s healthy, it’s easy enough to envision several clubs having interest on a low-cost deal.
Danks once looked to be a potential building block for the White Sox’ rotation, pitching to a 3.77 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 778 2/3 innings from 2008-11 (in Chicago’s homer-friendly home park, no less). However, he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery early in the 2012 campaign, and the former No. 9 overall draft pick hasn’t looked the same since returning from that operation. Danks was at least able to eat up some innings from 2013-15, but he posted an ERA between 4.71 and 4.75 in each of those three seasons before turning in a 7.25 ERA in his first 22 1/3 innings in 2016.
Chicago was understandably reluctant to cut the cord on Danks even after his shoulder troubles led to deteriorated performance, as doing so would’ve meant biting the bullet and eating the remaining money on Danks’ five-year, $65MM contract extension, which he signed prior to the same 2012 season during which he underwent shoulder surgery. That pact came to an end this season, and the Sox cut ties with Danks (and Mat Latos shortly thereafter) as they looked to capitalize on a strong start to the season that ultimately proved unsustainable.
Whether Danks can return to his ways as even an effective innings eater remains to be seen, but there was some obvious cause for concern in 2016. Danks averaged just 87.1 mph on his heater in his limited action in 2016, which is more than two miles per hour below the 89.4 mph he averaged in 2015 and more than four miles per hour south of the 91.7 mph he averaged in his 2010-11 peak. Nearly a full season’s worth of rest may do his shoulder some good, and at 31 he’s still young enough to believe that a rebound can take place, but Danks will almost certainly have to earn a rotation spot come Spring Training.