The Atlanta Braves added depth to their starting rotation Monday, agreeing to a minor league deal with left-hander John Danks, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.
Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reported Danks will receive $1.5 million if he makes Atlanta's major league roster.
The 31-year-old is coming off a dreadful 2016 season. He allowed 20 runs (18 earned) in four starts for the Chicago White Sox before they released him in May.
"The way my April went and the way the team is playing, I can't fault anybody with the decision they made," Danks said at the time, per the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane. "It's a win-now league, and I wasn't helping the team win."
It was the end of a disappointing tenure for Danks in the Windy City. The White Sox signed him to a five-year, $65 million contract extension in December 2011, and he never finished the five subsequent seasons with an ERA lower than 4.71. According to FanGraphs, his 4.83 FIP is seventh-highest among qualified starting pitchers during that stretch.
Danks hasn't been the same pitcher since undergoing shoulder surgery in August 2012. Whereas his average fastball velocity sat comfortably in the 91-92 mph range from 2007 to 2011, it hasn't eclipsed 90 mph since his injury-shortened 2012 campaign, per Brooks Baseball:
|John Danks' Declining Velocity|
|Year||Fastball Velocity (mph)||Sinker Velocity (mph)|
|Source: Brooks Baseball|
Despite his issues, signing Danks is a worthwhile risk for Atlanta.
If the Braves determine his days as an MLB-caliber starting pitcher are over, then they didn't make a significant financial commitment and they can offload him with little difficulty in the spring.
Should Danks emerge as a back-end rotation option, he'll be a massive bargain. Andrew Cashner will likely be the Texas Rangers' No. 4 or 5 starter, and he'll be making $10 million in 2017.
After Rich Hill went from pitching in an independent league in 2015 to becoming the best free-agent pitcher this offseason, a comeback for Danks isn't completely out of the question.