By Joshua Chapman
With the third overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft, the Chicago White Sox selected Carlos Rodon from North Carolina State. Getting Rodon was considered a huge steal for the organization, as he was projected to be the number one pick last year.
Rodon is considered the most MLB ready of all the pitchers in the draft, as well possibly the entire draft class. It’s possible that he sees time with the White Sox this year in a bullpen role, but it’s more likely that he breaks camp with the team next year. There’s just one thing: Rodon is a lefty.
Confused? Well, I’ll explain. The Sox already have three left-handed pitchers in their rotation in Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks. Furthermore, these three are at the front of the rotation. One of these guys has to be moved for a righty. It’s just what’s best for a pitching staff and what works well in a rotation. You look at all the successful teams in the MLB and they have a good right handed and a good left handed pitcher at the top.
The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Blue Jays have Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey. The Nationals have Stephen Strasberg and Gio Gonzalez. We all know that Chris Sale isn’t going anywhere. But what about Jose Quintana and John Danks?
The Case for Trading Danks
John Danks hasn’t really been himself since that big contract he got. He really hasn’t been himself since the shoulder surgery that ended his season in 2012. It’s 2014 now people. It may be time to face facts and admit that Danks may never be the same player again. Besides, Jose Quintana is the better pitcher between the two. And it’s not really close.
Quintana is more consistent and has better pitch selection than Danks. A deal like John Danks, Keon Barnum, Chris Beck and Keenyn Walker for Joe Kelly and cash considerations would be beneficial for both sides. The Cardinals get a lefty in a dominantly right handed staff: they also could put Danks in the bullpen as a long reliever and spot starter. The White Sox get a guy in Kelly that hasn’t scratched his potential yet, but may not get that chance in St. Louis as he’s the 6th starter/reliever. Given an opportunity in Chicago, under the tutelage of Don Cooper, he may shine.
Danks could be an insurance option/innings eater for a contending team, as well as a left-handed option out of the bullpen.
The Case for Trading Quintana
Let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute: what if John Danks is going to get better? After all, he has shown flashes of dominance both before and after his surgery. And what is this is the best that Quintana will be? Quintana hasn’t been one to miss bats and will often go deep in the pitch count, only to be pulled in the sixth or seventh inning. His arm has thrown a lot of pitches these last few years and he might burnout very quickly. Also, if the Sox are serious about getting a young starter at the top of their rotation, Quintana is their best bet.
Quintana might get you in talks with the Dodgers about Zach Lee, their highly touted right hander in Triple A. A package of Quintana, minor league outfielder Trayce Thompson and other prospects may get them into conversations about Dylan Bundy from the Orioles. The point is that Quintana could start a lot of conversations between Rick Hahn and other GMs if the White Sox are really looking at selling at the trading deadline.
I’d much rather trade away Danks and move Quintana back in the rotation. While Quintana can’t miss bats like Danks could when he was 100%, Quintana has value at the back end of the rotation, where he could eat quality innings as a number four or five pitcher. A rotation of Chris Sale/Carlos Rodon/Joe Kelly/Jose Quintana and either Tyler Danish/Andre Rienzo/Erik Johnson could do some serious damage in the American League, along with Jose Abreu, Alexi Ramirez and the rest of the White Sox surprisingly above average lineup.