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Friday, November 22, 2019

Mariners finalizing a six-year contract with first base prospect Evan White | The Seattle Times

The Mariners belief in Evan White as a player, and also a person, is taking them down a financial path that no team has ventured with a player.

MLB sources confirm a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that the Mariners and White have agreed to a six-year, $24 million contract with three club options. If the Mariners exercises the club options, the total amount of money in the deal could reach over $55 million.

Whilte the financial terms agreed upon, White must still take and pass an extensive physical before the deal is finalized. Sources indicate that it won’t be announced this weekend, but likely Monday at the earliest..

Jim Furtado Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:50 AM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: evan white, mariners

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   1. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5903156)
This feels like the Phillies locking up Scott Kingery to some extent...

White's a fine prospect and it's perfectly likely that he'll be a productive MLBer... but still.

I suppose that his speed and arm mean he's not necessarily limited to 1B, so if the bat is merely average - he's a decent enough choice to move to the OF....
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:24 PM (#5903162)
I liked White as a draftee, and he's been largely what I thought he'd be, but I don't know if he's a guy you lock up like this. His big skill is defense, which I don't think gets all that rewarded in the arb process, so how much are you really saving here? What if he's just a Casey Kotchman with the bat?
   3. JJ1986 Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5903164)
Do they have to add White to the 40-man roster now?
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5903175)
White must still take and pass an extensive physical before the deal is finalized.
Full cavity search?
   5. Darren Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5903201)
Kotchman's not a terrible outcome, if that's a worst case.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5903205)
Kotchman's not a terrible outcome, if that's a worst case.

Of course it's not the worst case. Worst case for almost every prospect is he can't hit major league pitching and puts up -2.0 WAR in 1000 PA before you cut bait.

   7. Rally Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5903210)
Snapper's case has a name, and it is Jon.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/singljo02.shtml
   8. DCA Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5903211)
Do they have to add White to the 40-man roster now?

Probably doesn't matter, as they appear to be planning to have him be their opening day 1B, and for that he'd have to be on the 40 man.

My worry is that he's being rushed. Kingery is the obvious comp mentioned above, and Kingery was rushed, though thankfully he seems no worse for the wear with 2019 being exactly what was projected for him prior to 2018.
   9. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5903212)
!!??!!???!?!??

This guy must be a tool shed, because looking over his stat line he seems to be... okay. After hearing about this, every 23 year old who can hit AA pitching should be on the phone with their agent.
   10. DCA Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5903215)
Half the guys who see him say he's pretty good with the glove, the other half say he's the best they've ever seen. He's worth at least 10 runs over an average defensive 1B.

But yes, this is definitely a case of banking on scouting reports saying his bat will play (100-110 OPS+) in majors.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5903218)
Half the guys who see him say he's pretty good with the glove, the other half say he's the best they've ever seen. He's worth at least 10 runs over an average defensive 1B.

Which means absolutely nothing if he can't put up at least a 110 wRC+.

But yes, this is definitely a case of banking on scouting reports saying his bat will play (100-110 OPS+) in majors.

Edit: to your edit: A great defensive 1B with a 100 OPS+ is still someone you're looking to upgrade on.

Joey Votto had a 98 OPS+ (OBP heavy) last year and was +6 with the glove, and was worth 1.6 WAR.

If White can't beat a 100 OPS+ this money is basically wasted.
   12. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:14 PM (#5903222)
They're paying $25m to a 23yo minor leaguer on the basis of projected first base defense?

Let me quote myself: !!??!!???!?!??

snapper's point is a good one, but he missed an even better one. Replacement level defense is MLB average. Ten runs above average on defense is worth only 1 WAR. Even with stellar defense, if he's only an iffy batter, wouldn't take much to find someone to replace him.

Edit: do you owe cokes on the basis of edits? snapper, here's a Aldi brand cola.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:20 PM (#5903224)
Well, they must be optimistic about his bat too.
   14. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:20 PM (#5903225)
Without digging into MLEs -- paging Dan or someone - White feels like a decent bet to avoid totally flailing and failing at the MLB level.

The power is OK... ISO of what... around 170-180? Nothing special - particularly for a 1B... Ks probably look a bit high, but then, I imagine my mindset is still dated on that.

Kotchman seems like a fair bet...
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5903226)
Without digging into MLEs -- paging Dan or someone - White feels like a decent bet to avoid totally flailing and failing at the MLB level.

Steamer currently projects him at 252/306/417 92 wRC+.
   16. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:33 PM (#5903227)
Steamer currently projects him at 252/306/417 92 wRC+.


OK, yikes... that's a fair bit lower than I'd have thought!

Still, I suppose he's likely to get at least a few months at AAA (which, of course, only adds to the case for "why now?" on the contract).

I guess that kind of IS Casey Kotchman though!
   17. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:39 PM (#5903229)
IMO, Steamer runs a bit low on minor league bats. That said, I'm not as high on him as some minor league types.

If teams are right on this sort of bet one time out of three, they're big winners. You'll be hard pressed, I suspect, to find many serious people who don't think this was a good move for Seattle.

EDIT: From Kiley McDaniel's FG piece on the deal: "One agent summarized the thoughts from the labor side: “Been dealing with about five big leaguer clients talking my ear off about this awful deal and how someone needs to talk to these young kids.”"
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 02:55 PM (#5903237)
If teams are right on this sort of bet one time out of three, they're big winners. You'll be hard pressed, I suspect, to find many serious people who don't think this was a good move for Seattle.

Really? Without this deal, White is going to make <$2M for his first three seasons. For the Mariners o break even, he'd have to have made something like $4M, $7M, $11M in his three arb years. To do that, he'll have to be established as at least an average player, for multiple years.

I don't think average major leaguer is anywhere near the 50th percentile outcome for a prospect like White.

If he's very good, the 3 option years for $31M will be nice, but if he's just average, they'll be meh.

If a team does three of these deals, and gets one very good player (say 20-25 WAR over the 9 years of control, and two busts, they'll have paid $55M for the good players, plus $48M for the busts. That's $103M for 20-25 WAR, which is OK, but not a bargain for mostly pre-arb and arb talent.

Eloy Jimenez was a top-10 prospect, almost two years younger, with WOW!!! milB stats (wRC+ of 157 in AA, 179 in AAA) and only got $43M.
   19. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5903239)
You'll be hard pressed, I suspect, to find many serious people who don't think this was a good move for Seattle.


Yeah, I am pretty silly. :-P

So Casey Kotchman with good defense is our comp. Let's give Casey another 10 Rfield per full season (call that 150 games). Which, for the record, would make him a crazy good defender. Keith Hernandez territory. Kotchman was worth 7.5 WAR for his career. That gives him another 6.2 wins. He's up to 13.7 for his career (over 939 games). At free agent prices, that's worth ~100m. If he plays 150 games a year (optimistic, but let's go with it) that gives him 900 games under this contract before the options kick in. Conveniently, Kotchman's entire career was almost exactly that length. So we're estimating that the six years SEA bought are worth $100m and they're paying 25% of that. But of course they would have gotten half of it basically for free anyway. So they're really paying ~$22m for about $50m worth of value. That's value that they would have gotten anyway, so they're paying that $22m to save on arb awards. What is the standard guesstimate of arb awards vs. FA value? 40-60-80? That's $6m in Arb1, 10 in arb2, and 13.3 in arb3. So $29.3m; they are betting $25m that this saves them $6.7m spread out over three years, starting three years from now.

Of course they've got team options, and those have value too. But I'm not optimistic that they've got much value. In Kotchman's seventh season he posted a 72 OPS+ and was worth 0.9 WAR. Give him his 10 Rfield bonus (and assume it doesn't drop with age) and he's at replacement level in his seventh season, with negative value thereafter.
   20. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:37 PM (#5903254)
18 - the two busts are likely to produce more than 0 war. I'd include that in the math.

irrelevant sidenote: I think Kotchman was a fine fielder and that our metrics didn't pick up some of what he was doing defensively.
relevant sidenote: My median expectation for White is higher than it was for Kotchman as a hitter. He's been an consistently above average (though hardly special) hitter for his league and has a profile that suggests he can continue to be. Hits the ball hard and his power numbers came on late in a park that, as I recall, was bad for him. (Arkansas is no good for righties, right?)

19 - The options are an important thing here, imo - the lottery ticket you get as a reward.

One thing that I think should be accounted for here is that this represents a risk/reward play that can be helpful in maximizing one chances of making the playoffs. If they don't pan out, you've wasted a few mil. If they do, you've got a long term, young, cost controlled asset. This kind of thing helps teams win.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5903255)
18 - the two busts are likely to produce more than 0 war. I'd include that in the math.

Or they could produce negative WAR. In any case, 3 WAR over 6 years is basically worthless.
   22. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5903262)
It changes your math though. Plus, these WAR estimates are likely lowballs.

So, let's say he's the #75 prospect in baseball (BA had him at 73 last year, I think his stock rose slightly since then). What have those guys done in the bigs?

Here are the position players who made BA's top 100 list in the 70-80 range in 2013: Brian Goodwin (2.3), Jedd Gyorko (10.4), Aaron Hicks (11.9), Adam Eaton (19.0), Avisail Garcia (7.0), Marcell Ozuna (19.5), Tyler Austin (0.6), Nick Franklin (1.3), Didi Gregorius (16.6). Average of 9.8 WAR over the first six years and if he's good enough to get the options those are likely a good deal as well.
   23. bookbook Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5903263)
If the M's thought White was Kotchman with a better glove, clearly they wouldn't make this offer. They at least believe his upside is substantially higher with the bat. Are they right? I don't know.

His swing change isn't so old that he's necessarily maxxed out his talent. Arkansas was not kind to his home batting line. Maybe it ain't the median, but they're dreaming on more than K with a glove.

Also, do they hope that doing this deal increases the odds they can lock in some of Kelenic, Rodriguez, Lewis, Long, Crawford, Raleigh for a longer term core?
   24. PreservedFish Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5903267)
Jon Singleton was the rarest of creatures, the marijuana addict. Not the type of guy I'd invest in. Was he signed during the Luhnow era?
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:09 PM (#5903270)
Average of 9.8 WAR over the first six years

Which likely wouldn't earn him more than $24M. Hicks was better than that and earned $22M. Half of that as part of his extension, which was only 7/70.

So, if White is as good as Hicks, the Mariner could probably pay him $12M for his first 5+ seasons, and then extend him for $10M p.a, which is similar to his options.

Basically, if your math is right, the Mariners locked in something like the expected value of his pay, which isn't a win.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5903274)
Jon Singleton was the rarest of creatures, the marijuana addict.

Oh, I don't think it's that rare. It may not be physical addiction like nicotine, or heroin, but if you feel compelled to smoke a bunch of pot every day of your life, you're just the same as an addict. And there are plenty of those people.

Didn't Ricky Williams give up like $20M because he didn't want to stop smoking pot? That's an addict.
   27. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5903279)
Two notes: There's also been some inflation since then + I didn't exclude players who were farther away from the bigs. Those only move the needle a little bit though (this cohort group probably is a good match).

Oh, ziggy - as to tools: he's thought to have average or better tools across the board, but nothing where he's going to be more than plus apart from defense (which, at first base, eh). I tend to disproportionately like prospects like that - if they make incremental improvements across the board, you've suddenly got an unexpected monster -- though if the reverse happens, they're suddenly bad. Embrace variance and all that. In truth, I expect an average, non-special starter by 2021-22 or so.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5903293)
If the M's thought White was Kotchman with a better glove, clearly they wouldn't make this offer. They at least believe his upside is substantially higher with the bat. Are they right? I don't know.

But that doesn't address the question of why now. Unless he's the next Alonso or something, this deal will be as attractive to him after his first year in the majors as now. I mean Javy Baez coming off 12 WAR over 2016-18 (including 6 in 2018) got just $5.2 M in his first arb year. He'll probably end up with about $30 over his 3 arb years. You commit $24 M to a AA guy to maybe save yourself $6 M if he's as good as Javy Baez? (Sure there's inflation but salaries have been flat for the last 3 years and inflating at only about 3% in the few years before that.)

Christian Yelich, coming off a 4 WAR season, got only 7/$50 covering two pre-arb, 3 arb and 2 FA years plus an option on a 3rd. The Ms have the options on the FA years but they'll pay something like $45 for the same years of this kid who's still at AA. If the kid has a first good season or two, you offer him the Yelich deal. Maybe you lose $10-15 M relative to this deal ... if he's really good.

James Loney is another good comp. Good defensive numbers, raked at AAA and got off to a fast start in MLB before his lack of power returned. Over the years covered by this contract, he put up 8.5 WAR. His age 28 season was a massive disaster, freakishly bad given his history, so let's ignore that and put him up around 12 WAR for the pre-FA years. He had another 4 WAR over the next two seasons. That would be put the Ms at about 16 WAR for $45 M over all the cheap years and two FA years. For the extreme comps, Yelich is at 34 WAR through 6 years of service time for $22 M and the Brewers still have control for 3/$42. Baez after 4 years of service time is at 17 WAR for $7 M. The Cubs would obviously love to have him wrapped up at 5/$48 from here ... will be interesting to see what it ends up costing them.

So sure, one 45-50 WAR for $64 M (Yelich) makes up for a whole lot of 0/$24 and 16/$45. But that's only a great strategy if you have 10 of those bets to make at the same time. The lesson of Yelich (and maybe Baez) isn't so much on the value of making big-money bets on kids at AA but of making big-money bets on kids you've seen in the majors for a year or more.

But it's true enough that it's also a pretty small risk. Even if it ends up at 0/$24 -- that would be good return on the average Rockies' multi-year FA contract. :-) And of course it's more likely to be something like 6/$24. And the money seems a bit high relative to comps but it doesn't really matter if it should be $19. It's more the irrationality of it that's annoying -- it's either too soon or too much or the Ms are more optimistic than they should be. But it's still probably a bet with a positive expected outcome.

I'll wait to see actual terms of the contract though. As stated in the intro, it essentially commits them to having him on the opening day roster or they've just committed themselves to paying $24 M for his first 3 super-2 years. That seems a silly thing for them to do so I wonder if there's a clause in there covering the scenario when he doesn't make the opening day roster. Can you pay roster bonuses in MLB?
   29. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5903296)
"One agent summarized the thoughts from the labor side: “Been dealing with about five big leaguer clients talking my ear off about this awful deal and how someone needs to talk to these young kids.”"


Maybe they should become part of the MLBPA while they are in the minors.

White absolutely won with this deal. He is set for life. If he does become a good MLBer, he'll get another contract in 6 years.
   30. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5903297)
I don’t begrudge White at all - he’s set for life.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5903299)
White absolutely won with this deal. He is set for life. If he does become a good MLBer, he'll get another contract in 6 years.


No he won't. He'll get another contract in 9 years. Isn't that the whole thing here? The $24M for 6 years isn't nuts either way, and it's a great payout for the kid, I totally get it from his perspective. But it's the 3 years of options at $10M each, which, if he's any good, will be wildly below his market value and likely to represent his absolute prime, his highest earning potential years.
   32. bfan Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5903303)
The $24M for 6 years isn't nuts either way, and it's a great payout for the kid, I totally get it from his perspective. But it's the 3 years of options at $10M each, which, if he's any good, will be wildly below his market value and likely to represent his absolute prime, his highest earning potential years.


But isn't that the essence of a negotiation? The team could get hosed in years 1-6 if it turns out the guy is not that good; or he gets lazy; or he hits a ceiling at MLB pitching, all of which could happen. But White's downside is now protected, and as, someone said, prudently spent and invested, he is set for life at a very comfortable level. If he is great, the cost of covering his downside will be giving up some upside in years 7 through 9, but the marginal value of that money ($10 million a year) is much less important than the first $24 million, which gets him to set for life. The $10 million a year (instead of say, $20 million a year), is getting his second home in the Caymans; his third home in Vail; and so on.

Or, if EW is president, he gets to keep 10% of that extra $10 million he would earn as a free agent, without the club option, so the loss just does not sting as bad.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: November 22, 2019 at 06:01 PM (#5903310)
Other "good fielders, meh bat" 1B who spring to mind:

Wes Parker -- his career pretty much matches the period covered by this contract and he made it to 23 WAR on a 111 OPS+

Daric Barton -- couldn't hold a starting job, 9 WAR, 1.7 WAA in just over 3 full seasons worth on a 99 OPS+

Mike Jorgensen 23-28 -- 10 WAR, 2 WAA on a 109 OPS+. He was platooned a good bit so he'd probably get more PT today but probably at a lower OPS+. Either way you'd probably decline the option for age 29.

Chris Chambliss 23-31 -- I never really noticed his defense while playing but 22 WAR, 3 WAA on a 109 OPS+

Tino Martinez 23-31 -- basically the same as Chambliss but on a 117 OPS+

Travis Lee -- 7 WAR, -6 WAA. You might cut him after age 28 but he just put up 3.6 WAR

David Segui -- He sprang to mind and doesn't work but I mention just because I never realized how much he struggled early. He didn't make it to positive career WAR until age 30, after 2500 PA. He also apparently wasn't a good defensive 1B. Managed to make it to 10 WAR for his career.

I'm sure there are plenty of others. And of course the 1B who can field but not hold a job for several years aren't likely to spring to mind so that "sample" is biased towards success. There are of course also lots of big upside comps like Hernandez, Grace, Olerud and I guess Bagwell isn't impossible. But anyway, a 2.5-3 WAR player (depending on whether his defense really will be +10) is possible on a 110 OPS+ and, as Barton and Jorgensen show, above-average is even possible around 100. Also 1B in the AL is in a sorry state these last few years (AL 1B at -0.7 WAA in 2019, KC at -4 WAA) so even an average 1B could be an advantage for the Ms over the next few years.

   34. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 22, 2019 at 07:51 PM (#5903338)
Wes Parker

Remember The Brady Bunch episode where Parker was dating one of Greg's teachers, whom Greg was in love with? (Greg stuck a shiv in Parker's thigh, and Wes was never the same hitter after that.)
   35. DCA Posted: November 22, 2019 at 09:50 PM (#5903356)
White wasn't without leverage. Comp White to Singleton:

White got $24 million guaranteed. He got a $3.125m signing bonus when drafted.

Singleton got $10 million guaranteed. He got a $200k signing bonus when drafted.

When a guy's already been paid, like White has been, it takes a better offer to get him to fork over his earning upside. Singleton really didn't have anything to fall back on: $200k plus a couple years of poverty wages doesn't leave you with much. White was already set for a lifetime of middle class comfort, so he could afford to turn down a truly shark offer.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 23, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5903403)
When a guy's already been paid, like White has been, it takes a better offer to get him to fork over his earning upside.

Sure. Most people's point here was that White actually didn't give up much upside. Unless he's a ~4 win player, he probably wasn't earning much more than this anyway. It's a great deal for White.
   37. winnipegwhip Posted: November 23, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5903409)
But White's downside is now protected, and as, someone said, prudently spent and invested, he is set for life at a very comfortable level. If he is great, the cost of covering his downside will be giving up some upside in years 7 through 9, but the marginal value of that money ($10 million a year) is much less important than the first $24 million, which gets him to set for life. The $10 million a year (instead of say, $20 million a year), is getting his second home in the Caymans; his third home in Vail; and so on.


Plus he gets some infusion of serious cash prior to the big labour war. If the lockout/strike occurs it will take place possibly during his best years for production as an athlete.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: November 23, 2019 at 07:31 PM (#5903491)
By the way, I kept confusing myself on White's age. This deal covers 24-29 guaranteed then 30-32 options. The $24 M guaranteed is a great deal for White but the 3 options years are pretty terrible. It is part of a negotiation (and we weren't in the room) but that seems crazy low and a not very successful negotiation by his agent. At least make the options something like 10/12/15 or put in some sort of automatic elevators (if he has 600 PA at age 29 or 1000 PA combined 28-29 then the options rise to $15 M).

If he is any good then he doesn't see FA until age 33 at which point he'll need to be Josh Donaldson to make any real money. Chances are his max career earnings are now about $65-75 M. Of course you never know -- the Padres will be trying to fill the huge hole left by the end of Eric Hosmer's contract so maybe they'll rock up with a 7/$250 M contract for him. :-)

Getting $24 guaranteed -- great for the kid. Severely limiting potential career earnings -- bad for the kid. Obviously in exchange for the comfy guarantee, the player is always going to have to limit potential career earnings to an extent but you don't want that to be "severe" or, more precisely, make it "severe" only in certain not overly likely scenarios. I think a general lesson here is probably along the lines of pricing the options such that the team only comes out way ahead if you are really good. On this deal, the Ms are likely to exercise those options if he's only average and still come out ahead. You want options to be difficult decisions for the team, at least in some scenarios, while the Ms most likely will have very easy decisions with all of them no matter how he turns out.
   39. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 23, 2019 at 09:00 PM (#5903500)
Casey Kotchman made <$13m in his career. Of course he last played in MLB in 2013, so some inflation is to be expected, but I think White did very very well here. Kotchman appears to have gotten only a single MLB FA contract - for $700k because by his seventh seasons he sucked pretty hard. We're expecting White to have a better glove than Kotchman, but that's not promising for the M's.

And of course there's a pretty good chance that he washed out before he ever gets a FA contract. Let's check comparable 2010 top prospects. Having trouble getting to BA's old list, so I'm going with a list from something called "topprospectalert". BA has White ranked #100, so let's look at #90-110.

Zach Stewart - 103 career IP, no FA
Jhoulys Chacin - good outcome
Ethan Martin - 44 career IP, no FA
Alex Liddi - 188 career PA
Mike Leake - good outcome
Eric Arnett - never made it to MLB
Jake Arrieta - good outcome
Tony Sanchez - 156 MLB PA, currently in AA
Mike Trout - let's call this a good outcome
Jamie Garcia - made it to FA
Brent Morel - 717 career PA/named after a mushroom
Jay Jackson - 34 IP; plays for MIL, but 31 so unlikely to hit FA
Nick Weglartz - did not make it to MLB
Eric Hosmer - good outcome
Miguel Sano - good outcome
Andrew Cashner - good outcome
Chad Jenkins - 100 career IP
Hector Gomez - 162 career PA
Tim Melville - 48 MLB IP; plays for COL, but 29 so unlikely to hit FA
Chris Heisey - made it to FA
Aaron Miller - topped out at AA

Based on his prospect pedigree, at any rate, White looks more likely than not to not make it to FA. And to end up somewhere between a guy who washes out of AA and the greatest baseball player who has ever lived (inclusive). I'm pretty comfortable with that latter prediction.
   40. PreservedFish Posted: November 23, 2019 at 10:28 PM (#5903503)
White's 2018 BA ranking isn't terribly useful here. You're missing the most important year of information we have on him.

MLB.com has a dynamic Top 100 and they rank White 58th. I think it would be more instructive to look at guys that were ranked 40-80 and had already reached AA.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 23, 2019 at 11:26 PM (#5903519)
White's 2018 BA ranking isn't terribly useful here. You're missing the most important year of information we have on him.

MLB.com has a dynamic Top 100 and they rank White 58th. I think it would be more instructive to look at guys that were ranked 40-80 and had already reached AA.


Not sure why he jumped that much. Similar offensive performance in AA as A, which is good progress, but still hasn't really crushed the ball. His minor league line is driven by a .350 BABIP.

   42. PreservedFish Posted: November 24, 2019 at 12:09 AM (#5903524)
Well, it's a different website, so they might just like him more.

But I dunno. He's 23 and hitting OK in AA as a righty 1B. Not the type of guy I'd be betting on.

If I were the Mariners, I'd be content to know that I could own the player for ages 24-30. Why rush to lock him up beyond that?

I think I have to agree that White did good here. There's a chance he misses out on $30M (or more!) if he's a great player. But also a really big chance that he'd never earn more than a few million bucks.

To put it in perspective, it's not that different from the contract that Ozzie Albies signed. That one was particularly egregious, but still. White is not in the same solar system as Albies as an asset.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: November 24, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5903572)
Why rush to lock him up beyond that?

3 options at about $10 M each is no risk to the Ms at all. The only questionable bit from their perspective is the 6/$24 guaranteed but they'd have been nuts not to add those 3 options.

My memory is that Schwarber was a mid-50s prospect before coming up. I think Gary Sanchez was too. And Nimmo.

Looking at Schwarber's minors page, BA liked him a lot at #19, MLB had him at #49 and BPro at #77. He missed 2016 with the knee and that might explain his terrible 2017 and he's bounced back to an average LF. And something might have clicked in 2019 as he did OK vs LHP so stayed in the lineup for a full 610 PA. Anyway, 5 WAR with 2 years of control left. Possibly that would be 7-9 WAR without the injury.

Sanchez started out reasonably high pre-2011 but didn't advance on the lists, falling off all three for 2015 before returning in 2016 but generally middling rankings. He's up to 11 WAR and just entering arb. Ms would love that sort of outcome.

Pre-2015, Nimmo was ranked 45, 72, 69. He didn't play in the majors in 2015, wasn't ranked in 2016 and got only 80 PA in the majors. He's been solid since then (big year in 2018) but missed a lot of time this year. He's at 6 WAR entering arb and probably could have held his own in the majors at 24.

Back in the great Nimmo debate of 2015 (?), I looked up some guys who were drafted in similar spots, were ranked similarly on prospect lists, had reasonably similar minors performances to that point. I came up with the Rich Becker line of 8 WAR (and I thought he was a good comp for Nimmo the prospect). The Becker line is a good outcome for most prospects and also represents the endpoint for a lot of solid but unspectacular and coulda been somebody prospects. Becker ended up with about 4 full seasons worth of PAs spread over 8 seasons -- one over 600 PA, one over 500, one over 400 -- and basically dead average. 7 of his 8.3 WAR came at ages 24-25.

Becker was a 3rd round pick out of HS and made the 93 and 94 BA lists at #78 and #37. He made AA at 21 and AAA and the majors at 22 so arguably a much better prospect than White -- generally good BA, good walks, moderate power. And of course 8 WAR for $24 M would hardly be a disaster.

FWIW, somebody mentioned Hosmer. He made $18 M over 2011-16 although he was a super-2 so $18 M is slightly discounted. IF we cooked in 6 years of inflation, that should be about $24 M, maybe a bit more. If we consider Hosmer a good outcome then committing $24 M at this stage looks like an overpay (relative to market). Hosmer had 10 WAR although Rfield does not like his defense so White's defense could bring that line up to 15+ WAR which would be very nice for the Ms and would make $24 a bargain relative to market.

Still 0 WAR for $24 M is not a big enough downside to scare you off such a deal for a player you expect to be a ML starter for at least a few years. I think it's sub-optimal (i.e. above-market at this point) but it's hard to go badly wrong on arb deals. But ...

Albies got 7/$35 that tops out at 9/$45 with options. And the Braves were able to get that deal after seeing 1+ years of him. There's nothing in White's track record to suggest he's in Albies' league. But that's on Albies' agent (or Albies' understandable desperation for a secure future).
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 24, 2019 at 05:01 PM (#5903585)
Still 0 WAR for $24 M is not a big enough downside to scare you off such a deal for a player you expect to be a ML starter for at least a few years.

I guess that last part is what I'm doubting. I think if White's your starting 1B, you're probably settling for mediocrity.
   45. Walt Davis Posted: November 26, 2019 at 02:51 PM (#5904066)
if White's your starting 1B, you're probably settling for mediocrity.

Mediocrity would be a step up for the M's at the moment. It is weird to commit to such a marginal player this quickly but presumably that's an indicator the Ms think he'll be pretty good (say at least 3 WAR) -- they might be wrong but we can't blame them for behaving in accordance with their beliefs. (We might criticize their ability to project players.) But part of my point is that $24 M over 6 years is easy for the Ms to walk away from if it goes bust. You let him start in 2020 and 2021 -- which they'll do regardless if they expect him to be good -- then if something better comes along, you move on. Jon Singleton got all of 99 starts despite his 6-7 year contract.

Like I said "it's either too soon or too much or the Ms are more optimistic than they should be." But that's more a question of optimization. Wait to see him in the majors to reduce your uncertainty around the projection and you'll reduce the risk of wasting $24 M but increase the risk he'll end up costing more than $24/55. My guess is that risk is reasonably small and that either they should have been able to get him for, say, $15-19 M guaranteed (maybe bigger options) or that they could have gotten this deal (maybe with bigger options) after 1+ years of MLB. But do all the hard work of figuring out the optimal course of action here and the expected outcome probably comes out to something like 6 WAR for $24 M which is not great return by the standards of early arb buyouts but is just not enough to worry about.

In short, if there's anything wrong in this decision, it says more about the M's FO ability to project, price, etc. than it has any major negative impact on the team's future. And if it's just an isolated mistake (and we don't know it's a mistake) even that doesn't matter.

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