Revisiting the play-at-the-plate that wasn’t in Game 7 of the World Series

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You remember this play from the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the World Series, of course. The one in which Alex Gordon took third base on an outfield error and maybe — maybe — had a shot to go home and tie the game:

Most folks who have considered that play have concluded that, had Gordon attempted to go home, he would have been out. I was there in person, with a nice bird’s eye view of the play, and it looked to me that he would have been out. Matthew broke it down after it happened and it looked to him as if Gordon would’ve been out too. Just about everyone says so.

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has a story looking at that play again, breaking it down once more. The conclusions don’t change, but the article is interesting because unlike all of the frame-by-frame breakdowns you’ve seen of it, this is accompanied by quotes and insights from the players involved. What was going on in their minds, what they thought the chances of success were and everything.

Obviously they have all been asked questions about it before, but this is a bit of a deeper dive. They’ve had more time to consider it. And having it all together in a piece like this makes that play come alive in ways that it hasn’t been alive since last October. Definitely worth your time.

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.