JULY 16: White has indeed elected to undergo season-ending hip surgery, reports Corey Brock of the Athletic (Twitter link).
JULY 10: Mariners first baseman Evan White was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 14 due to a strained left hip flexor, and his recovery process has already involved one setback, a cortisone shot, and a shift to the 60-day IL. Now, White’s season is in jeopardy, as Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including The Athletic’s Corey Brock and MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer) that “the injury is more ominous than we thought.”
A season-ending surgery is a possibility, and whatever direction White and the team takes, “we are hopeful that we have a definitive answer on that in the next couple of days,” Dipoto said. “My guess is at some point tomorrow, or just after we come out of the break, we’ll have a news update. But I wouldn’t anticipate having Evan back, perhaps, for the remainder of the year.”
Such a procedure could have a longer-term impact than just the 2021 season. While obviously the surgery’s intent is to correct White’s hip issue for now and in the future, it can take a while for players to fully adjust and recover from major hip surgery. Perhaps the most famous recent example was Buster Posey, who had hip surgery late in the 2018 season and didn’t look right for the entire 2019 campaign (though Posey also had the additional physical toll of playing catcher).
Any way you look at it, the surgery is a rough development for the 25-year-old White, who has only 84 games and 306 plate appearances under his belt at the Major League level. White has hit only .165/.235/.308 in the majors, but he has already made a name for himself as a defensive standout, winning AL Gold Glove honors at first base in his 2020 rookie season.
The 17th overall pick of the 2017 draft, White posted some solid (though not overwhelming) numbers at the plate in his first three minor league seasons, which was enough for the Mariners to confirm him as part of their future by signing White to a six-year contract worth $24MM in guaranteed money. If all three club options are exercised, the contract maxes out as a nine-year pact worth $55.5MM through the 2028 campaign.
In short, there’s still plenty of time for White to get healthy and establish himself as a Seattle cornerstone, even if his first two seasons haven’t gone as planned. These types of “pre-career” contract extensions between teams and top prospects have become increasingly popular in recent years, and White’s situation could be used (for better or worse) as an example of why some youngsters might prefer to lock in a big payday at the risk of potentially limiting future earnings.