CHICAGO -- The White Sox 2011 payroll, moving toward the range of $123 million and shaping up as the largest in franchise history, will go up once again over the next month.
But this increase has nothing to do with the White Sox pursuit of another free agent to enhance their postseason chances. Instead, it focuses on coming to terms with the team's arbitration-eligible players in left-handed starter John Danks, outfielder Carlos Quentin and right-handed reliever Tony Pena.
Filing for these arbitration-eligible players begins on Wednesday and runs through Jan. 15. Salary arbitration figures will be exchanged on Jan. 18, and the arbitration hearings run from Feb. 1-21.
If past history serves as any indication, the White Sox won't have to go that far with any of the three aforementioned players. Reliever Keith Foulke stands as the last player whom the White Sox went to an arbitration hearing with back in 2001, with Foulke getting an increase from $445,00 to $3.1 million.
Danks, who turns 26 on April 15, earned $3.45 million in 2010, after agreeing to a one-year deal with the White Sox. The southpaw has emerged as one of the steadier American League starters over the past two years, posting a 28-22 record with 200 1/3 innings thrown in 2009 and 213 innings thrown in '10. Danks topped the White Sox with 162 strikeouts in '10.
It was the White Sox AL Central-winning 2008 campaign when Danks truly established himself as a central part of the rotation. Danks produced a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts and hurled eight scoreless innings in the 1-0 playoff play-in "Blackout Game" victory over the Twins.
Quentin, 28, is set to begin his fourth season with the White Sox after earning $3.2 million on a one-year deal in 2010. He turned in a Most Valuable Player-caliber effort in 2008, with 36 home runs, 100 RBIs and a .394 on-base percentage, despite missing the season's last month with a broken bone in his right wrist. Quentin hit .243 in 2010 but drove in 87 runs on just 110 hits.
Pena, 29, proved to be an extremely valuable swing man in 2010, working on his own one-year deal at $1.2 million. He pitched in long relief but also made three spot starts for the White Sox. The veteran is a candidate to temporarily step into the rotation for Jake Peavy, if Peavy is not yet ready to begin the season in his ongoing recovery from a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder.
Prior to the 2009 season, Danks and Quentin basically were offered the same four-year, $15.5 million deal as Gavin Floyd. Only Floyd agreed to the deal. Danks, Quentin and Pena would become free agents after the 2012 season.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen and follow him on twitter at @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.