Danks, Quentin decisions on the clock

Expect the Chicago White Sox to come to terms will all three of their arbitration-eligible players in advance of hearings before an arbitrator that start next month.

John Danks, Carlos Quentin and Tony Pena all have earned the right to have their 2011 salaries decided by an independent third party. A player’s arbitration years are a buffer between their early years when teams can set their salaries and later years when they are eligible for free agency.

The White Sox's track record, though, is to come to deals with players before the sometimes contentious arbitration hearings, where teams end up accenting the negative in order to justify their point for a lower salary. It's never a great confidence booster or relationship builder just before a season begins.

The last time the White Sox had a case go to an arbitrator was in 2001 with Keith Foulke.

A source indicated earlier this winter that the White Sox will get serious with the option of signing Danks to a three- or four-year deal that would take him past his arbitration years. Danks reportedly declined a four-year, $15 million deal last offseason.

The team’s decision on Quentin will be interesting. He was also offered a four-year deal last offseason but declined for a one-year offer. The White Sox still don’t seem convinced that Quentin can stay injury- or stress-free over a full season.

A long-term deal with Quentin could be risky, but so could another one-year contract, especially if he puts up numbers like he did in 2008 when he hit 36 home runs with 100 RBIs. If he does that again, he could end up being worth more than the White Sox could afford once he becomes a free agent.

Expect Pena to wind up with a one-year deal.