What the Evan White Extension Means for the Mariners
The cold, dreary winter months are here and dragging on. Baseball season seems like it’s an eternity away. But while we sit around and wait for Spring to come, the Mariners are planning even further into the future.
The 4th overall prospect in the Mariners system, 1B Evan White, has signed a 6 year $24M extension with three club options, mad official Monday morning. That’s right, a player that had played just 4 games above DOUBLE-A is now with the club for the long haul.
Now, at first glance, you may be thinking “Why in the world would they give $24M to someone who hasn’t even stepped foot in the big leagues?” That’s a fair question and in order to understand the Mariners’ thinking, one has to dissect the many different layers.
One of the biggest factors in this deal lies within the option years. Essentially, the Mariners bought out three years of Evan Whites free agent years. The deal can max out at 9 years for just north of $55M.
Even before the options, the Mariners gave themselves cost certainly over the years that White would have spent in arbitration. Even if White ends up being an average player, he would likely have made more than $4M AAV in his second or third year of Arbitration.
The Mariners make out like bandits in this deal. Even if White never steps foot onto a major league diamond, the Mariners don’t lose much. While $24M seems like a big chunk of change, they basically just used the money they would have spent to pay Robinson Cano this year and spread it out across 6 years for Evan White. If White turns into what they think he will, those extra option years basically sign an All-Star level 1B for half of what he would garner on the open market.
For White, the deal represents more of a risk. Should he end up becoming an above-average player, he could have cost himself millions of dollars due to those options. But in the meantime, the deal acts as a show of good faith from the Mariners.
By giving him $4M a year, they guarantee White that money instead of leaving him to make just the league minimum for the first three years. He also doesn’t have to worry about the service time game and can start the year with the major league club if they see him as ready for the jump.
It proves a powerful point to the rest of the organization. White is, by all accounts, an 80-grade person and then kind of player that the Mariners want in their organization. He also, according to Corey Brock of The Athletic, just moved closer to the facility in Arizona so he can train more often.
Now that he’s earned this new extension, it shows the other young players that if they stay dedicated, they too could find themselves with a big chunk of change in their pockets. The Mariners are rewarding their players.
Cost certainly is a big deal for a team that plans to contend during that time frame. If White is the first Domino to fall in what turns into an offseason full of extensions for young players such as this one, then the Mariners will be set up for the future.
In fact, if the Mariners manage to curate an extension similar to Whites with the likes of Logan Gilbert, Kyle Lewis, Cal Raleigh, etc, then they would be in a great position.
The idea behind a flurry of extensions is to avoid what the Astros will have to deal with soon. Players like Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer are only going to go up in price as they make their way through Arbitration and into free agency.
That is one of the biggest reasons why the Astros would have trouble signing Gerrit Cole this offseason. If they want to keep all of their pieces, they are going to pick and choose who they decide to pay. The Mariners could be well on their way to avoiding that.
Early extensions are becoming commonplace in Major League baseball. We’ve seen Ronald Acuna, Scott Kingery, Eloy Jimenez and others sign deals similar to that of White’s. So far, almost all of those deals have worked out. The only one in recent memory that I can remember not going so well was the Astros extension of Jon Singleton. Otherwise, it seems like a solid move.
The holiday shopping is beginning to ramp up and apparently that applies to the Seattle Mariners as well. We all knew Jerry wouldn’t stay quiet for long and he broke out the checkbook early this year. Hopefully, we will see a few other stocking stuffers fall our way over the next few months.