Chicago’s slow start and clutch of quality starting pitching combined with the Yankees’ perpetual need for starting pitching led me to wonder whether the two teams might meet up in a trade as the calendar flips to June and general managers have a clearer idea of whether they have a legitimate shot at the postseason.
Granted, though the White Sox haven’t played all that well, the AL Central appears to be about as wide open as it’s ever been, and unless you believe the Indians and Royals are for real, it’s certainly possible the ChiSox will find themselves back in contention. And then of course the fact that the Sox do actually have one of the strongest rotations in the league (the group’s 4.7 fWAR is third-best in the AL) could very well lead Kenny Williams to think he’s a buyer instead of a seller.
So while it remains to be seen whether the Sox ultimately do decide to sell this summer, given Williams’ wheeling-and-dealing nature along with the fact that he and Brian Cashman anecdotally have a good relationship, it’ll be interesting to see whether any of Chicago’s starters trade their Sox pinstripes for those of the Yankee variety. Of course, the question becomes, which Sox starter do you trade for and what would it take to acquire them? As all five members of Chicago’s rotation are currently outperforming every starter on the Yankees in fWAR save CC Sabathia, I think it’s worth exploring each of them.
Danks is actually off to the worst start of any of his rotation-mates, but don’t let the 4.50 ERA fool you — Danks has been one of the top pitchers in the American League over the last four seasons, having accumulated 13.3 fWAR since 2008, the 9th-highest total in the AL during that time. Gazing at the lefty Danks’ peripherals, nothing really catches your eye off the bat — he has a decent but far from overwhelming K/9 (just a shade under 7), OK-but-not-great BB/9 (3), and moderate GB% (42%). So why has he been one of the more valuable pitchers in the league? For one, like pretty much everyone who’s started for the White Sox during the Kenny Williams era, he soaks up a lot of innings. Two, he has three outstanding pitches: not only has his fastball been worth 14.8 runs above average since 2008, the 3rd-highest mark among lefties currently in the American League, but his cutter’s been the 3rd-best in the Majors in that timeframe regardless of hand (28.9 runs above average) and his changeup the 6th-best (28.8 runs above average).
Add in the fact that Danks is signed to a steal of a contract ($6M) and still has one more year of team control left before becoming a free agent after the 2012 season, and Chicago essentially has zero incentive to trade him. Just for fun, if we run Danks’ numbers through Sky Kalkman’s trade value calculator, we get a net trade value of $21 million, assuming Danks is a Type A free agent, that he’d receive an 80% raise next season as a third-year arbitration eligible player and utilizing his THT Oliver WAR projections. It seems highly unlikely that a possible deal for Danks would make sense for either side, as the Yankees would have to part with at least Manny Banuelos and more if you go by Victor Wang’s Prospect Trade Value research. Yankee fans will just have to hold out hope that the 26-year-old Danks somehow makes it to free agency.
RAB explored the possibility of acquiring Floyd during the offseason, and ultimately concluded that while Floyd would be an excellent addition to the Yankee rotation, the teams didn’t really line up sensibly as far as a trade goes. Floyd’s off to another excellent year, and is currently boasting the highest K/9 (8.08) and lowest BB/9 (2.20) of his career. The only reason his FIP doesn’t reflect those numbers is because of his unsustainably high HR/9 (1.29), but xFIP knows this and sees Floyd as a 3.12 ERA pitcher going forward.
Floyd has one more year left after this on his contract (at $7 million) along with a team option at $9.5 million for the 2013 season. Given that he’s been worth well more than both of those figures each season since he’s been a full-time member of the Chicago rotation, picking up the option is a no-brainer. Punching Floyd’s contract info and projected WAR into the calculator finds that his net trade value of $32 million is even higher than that of Danks’, making a potential deal even more cost-prohibitive for the Yankees. Unless you’re interested in trading Banuelos or Betances plus a slightly less heralded prospect, I don’t see a deal being worked out.
To be continued…
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