It’s official: Mariners ink Evan White to new long-term contract
Signed, sealed, delivered for possibly as many as nine years, Evan White took his place at the podium at T-Mobile Park Monday afternoon with is No. 12 Mariners jersey hanging behind him. To his left hanging on the wall: A portrait of Ken Griffey Jr. at the same podium.
It wasn’t where White expected to be in the final week of November, but in his mind, it is where he was always meant to be.
“I fell in love with the city, the people, the ballpark right away,” he said shortly after signing the contract. “I knew this is where I wanted to be.”
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 26, 2019
Less than three years into his professional career and having not yet spent more than a few days at Triple-A, White signed the rarest of deals. It was a contract that was discussed in the Mariners’ front office in August, presented to ownership in September and finally the player’s agent, Blake Corosky, at the GM meetings a week ago before it was agreed upon last Friday. That evening Corosky placed a phone call to his client, who was a a friend’s birthday dinner.
“I had no idea why he was calling. I got a call from Blake: ‘I need you to step out, it’s good,'” White remembered.
In the coming days Corosky would counsel White on all factors, including predictive data that he needed to take into consideration in making such a decision. The MLB Players Association would weigh in too, making sure he knew what he potentially could be giving up. In his heart of hearts, Corosky knew this was a good fit for White.
“It is very unique but for Evan and the kind of person that he is, a son, a husband, person of faith, loyal – he absolutely fell in love with what was happening here. This made sense,” Corosky said. “For a lot of players it might not.”
Dipoto, White and Junior. pic.twitter.com/mXiWyvfFDR
— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) November 25, 2019
The decision came relatively quickly. Armed with the data from his agent and the MLBPA as well as the experience he has had with the organization, White, who is getting married in December, was ready to put pen to paper.
“I have full trust in the organization and where we are going,” he said. “The front office and the players coming up and the guys here now. It was an easier decision once we sat down and looked at the the pros and the cons. I truly believe in this organization and I am more than fortunate and blessed to be a part of it.”
For Dipoto, the decision to commit to White was simple.
“It’s about us wanting to lay the foundation and create stability for a future roster, and it made him a critical part – and not just because we think he’s an excellent player.” Dipoto said. “It’s a combination of what he does on the field and who he is away from it. Choosing Evan as the guy that we wanted to be at the center of it? I can’t say enough about the kind of person we are dealing with on this.”
Teammates, coaches and Dipoto will all attest to the potential for leadership that White possesses. Spend 10 minutes with him in the dugout before a game either at Double-A or when he was up observing the big club in late September and you can see it. The younger players flocked to him. He’s that guy. The “person” part was no doubt the easy part of the decision-making process for Dipoto and the Mariners. The baseball part? What they have seen in the last 14 months in small changes he made at the plate helped solidify their confidence in what could come.
“With the exception of Kyle Lewis, nobody hits the ball harder than Evan White,” said Dipoto. “And it’s been that way since he’s been a Mariner. We just had to work on taking an angle and shifting it. To his credit he’s adapted to it and it’s started to show up in the columns. You couple the Gold Glove defense with what the rest of the package is and it is pretty exciting to us.”
Dipoto confirmed that the Major League contract that White signed with the Mariners “makes it more obvious” that he will be given every chance to win his position at first base. Once there he will be allowed to develop like any young player called up for the first time.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on Evan; I hope this relieves it,” said Dipoto. “The only way this puts pressure on Evan is if our expectation is he is a finished product when he steps out there and we don’t expect that. He will get a very long rope. We believe in the player, we believe in the skill set and we have all done it enough to know that it takes time. You need at-bats, you need time to get comfortable at this level.”
For his part, White will look to keep everything on the field in perspective.
“It just comes back to what I have always done and not changing it,” he said. “Just wanting to get better to build upon things, continue to grow in areas I need to improve upon and just going and attacking every day and working my butt off.”
White’s future is secured, his offseason work is done. Dipoto, on the other hand, is most likely just getting started. Could we see similar deals given to other prospects? It’s not out of the question.
“We know for the club there is some risk in deals like this,” Dipoto said. “That will not stop us from venturing out and doing it again if we get the opportunity. I saw it happen on teams I played for in my mid-20s with the Indians. It was phenomenal to see how quickly a roster gelled when the players knew they were going to play together. Especially for us having had so much turnover the last four years, we thought this was a really important element for us in our next stage of development, not just for our players but for our fans. This is what we are doing. This is how we are going to build this.”