The Yankees are abusing Baltimore. And That's OK

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The Yankees are 37-22.  After last night that record is comprised of a 10-1 mark against the Orioles, a 4-0 mark against the Indians and a 5-1 record against the Twins.  Against everyone else the Bombers are under .500.

I would not be at all surprised to hear New York talk radio fret about this sort of thing at some point because New York talk radio is always looking for something to fret about, but it’s worth remembering that this is not at all uncommon.  Indeed, it’s usually the case that the best teams beat the living tar out of the worst ones and basically break even against the better teams (and, I suppose in the case of the Twins, beat up on those good teams whose number one simply seems to have).  The Yankees did this last year and managed to win a World Series. They also did this in their previous championship year — 2000 — going 42-43 against .500+ opponents en route to a 87-74 record.

And it’s not just the Yankees. As Darren Everson pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last year, the last time a team won a World Series while doing better than breaking even against .500+ teams was 1995 when the Braves did it.  Everson also noted that the Angels frequently kick the snot, relatively speaking, out of good teams and they usually get a first round playoff exit for thier troubles.  All the other recent champs have cruised against the pushovers and done no better than hold their own against the toughies.

So while some people may want to see the Yankees play better against the Rays and Red Sox of the word, this pattern is just dandy. At least if you’re not an Orioles or an Indians fan.

Mariners agree to a six-year contract with prospect Evan White

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This is a rare one: the Mariners have signed first base prospect Evan White — a player who has yet to play a game above Double-A — to a six-year, $24 million contract. The deal has three club options as well that, if exercised, could make it max out at $55.5 million over nine years.

White was the M’s first round pick in the 2017 draft, going 17th overall out of the University of Kentucky. In 2019 he played at Double-A Arkansas in the Texas League, hitting .293/.350/.488 with 18 home runs, striking out 92 times and walking 29 times in 92 games. It’s a good line in a league that is pretty pitcher-friendly. Stuart also reportedly plays excellent defense at first base.

Clearly the Mariners consider White a part of their future, but unless White flames out early in his career, he’s leaving a lot of potential money on the table.

White turns 24 early next season, which means that, even if he begins the 2020 season in the majors, starting his major league service time clock on Opening Day, he wouldn’t reach free agency until he’s poised to begin his age-33 season, assuming the Mariners exercise those options. If the Mariners place him in Triple A for anything beyond a couple of weeks to start next season, that changes to his age-34 season. A full year of Triple-A action and even some modest service time manipulation by the M’s in 2021 would put it off even longer.

At the same time, a team is unlikely to want to pay a guy millions to toil in the minors — and the M’s are guaranteeing themselves as many as nine years of White’s services — so the threat of service time manipulation is greatly reduced. Which means that, if he hits, he plays. Of course, if he hits well and continues to do so, the Mariners will have a considerable bargain on their hands, with a potential franchise cornerstone locked up at an average of $6 million and change a year for nearly a decade.

As we’ve noted so often when discussing extensions with young players, that’s the tradeoff. After today, White could hit like Mario Mendoza, field like Dick Stuart and be drummed out of baseball before he’s 30 and, assuming he’s even moderately sensible, still have enough money to set himself up for life. If he turns into a real star he’ll make less than half of what he’s worth in his career. His alternative: wait at least four years and maybe five to reach arbitration and three more after that until he can be a free agent. Assuming arbitration and free agency exist after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2021.

So, let’s check back in a few years before passing ultimate judgment.