According to a source, the team is trying to work a multiyear contract for the left-handed starter into their budget. So while negotiating with free agent Paul Konerko lies ahead, as well as deciding whether or not to bring back A.J. Pierzynski, not to mention retooling the bullpen, it will all be done with an eye toward Danks.
The 24-year-old still has two more years of arbitration-eligible status, but the desire is to lock him in at least through his first free-agent year in 2013. That would require a minimum three-year deal, but a four-year pact is more desirable, according to the source.
Danks made $3.45 million this past season while proving to be the team's steadiest starter. He finished 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA, while his walks and innings pitched per nine innings was a career best 1.21. Over the last three seasons, Danks has pitched at least 195 innings and has never had an ERA above 3.77, while making a minimum of 32 starts.
Gavin Floyd signed a similar four-year deal before the 2009 season to get him through his initial free-agent years worth $15.5 million. That contract also includes a club option attached for 2013 at $9 million.
A potential Danks deal could be in the $20-million range based on his past success and the fact that he has remained healthy throughout his short career. Spread out over four seasons, that would be a relative bargain when compared to the $16 million and $14 million Jake Peavy and Mark Buehrle will earn respectively in 2011 alone.
Internally, the team is discussing ways to keep the core of young talented players in the fold for as long as possible. That core not only includes Danks, but Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham. Sergio Santos, Dayan Viciedo, and most recently Chris Sale, have emerged as candidates to join that core group as well.