Wednesday, July 10, 2024

White Sox Reliever Could Be Sneaky Valuable Trade Deadline Chip


Tanner Banks has had a unique professional baseball career to say the least. Drafted in the 18th round by the White Sox back in 2014, he spent parts of nine years in the minor leagues before finally getting a chance in the bigs. Now 32 years old, the left-handed reliever has defied the odds against him and is enjoying his best MLB season yet. He has been so productive that he might now be a candidate to get dealt at this year’s trade deadline.

Banks’ Career Year So Far

A former lifetime starting pitcher, Banks’ five-pitch arsenal of a slider, four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball, and sinker has played better out of the bullpen than it ever did out of the starting rotation. The stats prove it. Banks’ 9.8 K/9 this season is a career-high, while his 2.3 BB/9 and 3.38 FIP are career lows. Banks is generating more whiffs at a higher rate than in the past while also inducing softer contact than ever. His performance is no longer a fluke. He has become one of the most used and trusted relievers in Pedro Grifol’s bullpen this season.

Banks has been particularly effective against left-handed hitters in 2024, as they are hitting just .197 against him with a .519 OPS. While left-handed specialists are less critical than they once were because of the three-batter minimum rule implemented a few years ago, Banks has owned lefties this year. That still means something, especially for a contending team looking for left-handed bullpen reinforcements.

Lots Of Team Control

Banks’ team control is another reason he could have sneaky trade value at the deadline. Because he did not make his MLB debut until 2022, he still has four and a half seasons of team control remaining at a club-friendly price point. Quality left-handed relievers cost a fortune in free agency. Teams do not have to worry about that with Banks. He is cost-controlled for the foreseeable future.

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Exceptional Durability

Durability is also a factor that works in Banks’ favor. He has already made 36 appearances this season and has taken the ball consistently throughout his minor league career. His injury history is minimal, a rare quality for pitchers in today’s game. Like fellow bullpen mate John Brebbia, Banks always takes the ball, an essential trait for a reliever. He has shown no signs of slowing down and should be good to go for a contender during the stretch run.

Starting Pitcher Background

His background as a starting pitcher helps his case from a value standpoint as well. Banks is more than just a one-inning reliever. He can pitch multiple innings at a time given his five-pitch arsenal. While he traditionally has not been a high-leverage reliever, his stuff plays at the MLB level. There is no doubt about that. Banks’ ideal fit is as a second or third lefty pitching out of the bullpen in the middle innings.

Sneaky Valuable Trade Deadline Chip

Tanner Banks is far from a household name. Other than White Sox fans, most baseball fans probably do not even know who he is. But his 2024 performance, team control, durability, and starting pitcher background have created a potentially intriguing asset for playoff teams looking for another bullpen arm. It is not a guarantee that the White Sox will trade him, and he likely would not return a massive haul because of his relatively minimal track record. However, left-handed pitchers who have proven they can miss bats at the MLB level will always have value. Banks fits into that category.

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