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Phillies manager Gabe Kapler makes sure every reliever gets a turn

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Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta was brilliant Thursday against the Orioles, striking out 11 in seven innings before leaving with a 4-1 lead. The Phillies went on to win 4-1, too, but not before manager Gabe Kapler used four similarly talented right-handed relievers to finish it off.

Here’s how it went:

Tommy Hunter: 1/3 IP, allowed two hits
Luis Garcia: 2/3 IP, allowed one walk
Edubray Ramos: 2/3 IP, struck out both batters he faced
Hector Neris: 1/3 IP, game-ending groundout

The move in the eighth made some sense, given that Hunter had allowed two of the three batters he faced to reach. Still, why take Garcia out after two outs afterwards if you’re not going to go to your closer? And why remove Ramos after two strikeouts in a three-run game. Not that we like it when managers manage to their players’ statistics, but that switch cost Ramos what would have been his second career save, and it didn’t earn one for Neris, since he would have needed to pitch the full inning (or enter with men on base) to pick up the save in a three-run game.

So, Kapler used four relievers even though the Phillies are due to play eight straight days. Maybe it was what he wanted to do going in; the Phillies had Monday off and were rained out Tuesday, so the guys hadn’t pitched in a while. Still, one imagines they’ll all be busy this weekend with four games against the Cardinals beginning tomorrow.

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.