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Pete Mackanin’s contract extension is still up in the air

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Phillies’ GM Matt Klentak hasn’t committed to exercising manager Pete Mackanin’s 2018 option yet, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Last spring, the 65-year-old skipper was signed to a two-year contract that covered the 2016 and 2017 seasons and included an option for 2018.

There’s little cause for concern just yet, says Salisbury, in part because of Mackanin’s success with the club during their 2016 run. The Phillies didn’t show any spectacular improvement when Mackanin arrived on the scene in 2015, taking fifth place in the National League East with a 63-99 record, but gained an extra eight wins in 2016 and bumped up their position to fourth in the division.

Similar improvements could be on the horizon for the club in 2017. While a championship title is still out of reach, Mackanin told Michael McGarry of The Press of Atlantic City that he has his sights set on more modest achievements. “We might not go from A to Z and get to the World Series,” Mackanin said, “but I think we can go from A to F or A to G. We have to start making our move.”

The team has focused on acquiring depth over the offseason, anchoring their pitching staff with right-handers Clay Buchholz, Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit, adding backup catchers Bryan Holaday and Ryan Hanigan and picking up a couple of corner outfielders in Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick. They’re not the flashiest of moves, but moving the needle even a little bit further in the Phillies’ favor could help secure Mackanin’s future with the club beyond his 2017 campaign.

Until then, it’s unlikely that Klentak will have much to comment on. Per Salisbury:

At the winter meetings, general manager Matt Klentak deftly sidestepped questions on the matter by citing NBCSports.com writer Craig Calcaterra’s annual (and hilarious) ranking of baseball’s most handsome managers. Mackanin ranked a very respectable eighth on the list, which each year draws more and more cackles from the baseball establishment.

“If Pete had ranked in the top five …” Klentak said with a shrug and a laugh.

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.