Three innings in: the All-Star Game is tied at 1

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CINCINNATI — Three innings into the Mid-Summer Classic and it’s . . . OK I guess.

Sorry, still jacked from the Home Run Derby last night, realizing that a few tweaks turned an awful event into a great one. Now I’m thinking of what some tweaks would do to a merely boring event like the actual All-Star Game. Maybe get rid of the every-team-must-be-represented rule, pick 20-25 guys and play a real game?

Yeah, I know it’ll never happen — pitcher usage would be a problem — but we’re just starting the fourth inning and our fifth pitcher is in the game. They’re all so good. They all throw fire. Kind of makes things hoo-hum.

Not that we haven’t had some excitement so far. In the first inning Mike Trout hit a homer that just snuck over the right field wall on the fourth pitch of the game from Zack Greinke. Trout, by the way, was born six weeks before Guns N’ Roses’ “Use Your Illusion” albums came out. He’s so young and so good and he already has a lifetime All-Star Game cycle, having singled, doubled, tripled and homered in his appearances.

The NL came back in the bottom of the second, as Paul Goldschmidt hit a slow roller to third which Josh Donaldson air-mailed, allowing Goldschmidt to wind up on second. He reached third on a Buster Posey groundout and then came home when Jhonny Peralta singled.

Since then, not much happening. And on we go.

But really, Rob Manfred: let’s make this crazy like the Derby!

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.