One of the newer trends across Major League Baseball is to sign really young players, sometimes with no major league experience, to long term deals. While there are real reasons why this could backfire (hampers long term earning power for the player, real risk of flaming out for the team, etc.), the deals do seem to be helpful in guaranteeing a certain amount of financial security for the player (which is very relevant in today’s world with contentious CBA negotiations already underway) and financial certainty for the clubs whereas arbitration hearings can explode costs in a hurry.
The move to sign guys without any major league experience started with Jon Singleton and the Astros back in 2014. Singleton was considered to be one of the better hitters in all of the minor leagues and before he played a game in the majors, Houston inked him to a five year deal that guaranteed him at least $10 million. That deal did not work out as Singleton battle ineffectiveness and suspensions before he was released in 2018, but others have signed such deals in recent years including Scott Kingery with the Phillies and Eloy Jimenez with the White Sox. The Braves haven’t signed any prospects to significant deals (yet), but they did lock up Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. very early in their careers last year with lengthy extensions.
Now, the Seattle Mariners are getting in on the fun.
1B prospect Evan White (No. 58 on @MLBPipeline Top 100) is set to sign long-term deal with @Mariners. Guaranteed $24 mil over first six years, also includes three club options. Should be announced Monday. White hit .293/.350/.488 in Double-A this year, also outstanding defender.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) November 22, 2019
Make no mistake, this is a team friendly deal for the type of player that White could realistically become. The actual financial terms are very reasonable and the team gets three club option years tacked on to the end of the deal to provide them some flexibility and control.
On White’s end, this assures that he will make at least $24 million which, for a guy as young as him, is a big deal. Nothing is guaranteed in the game of baseball and this deal does provide him some insurance in the case of injury or if his performance drops off.
White’s case is an interesting one because his floor as a prospect is significantly higher than most hitting prospects. While he can absolutely hit and for power (and one can assume those numbers could/will jump a bit once he starts hitting the new baseball), even if his bat drops off, he will still likely be the best defensive first baseman in the American League from the day he makes his major league debut. That added value most certainly diminshes some of the risk on Seattle’s side of things.