Mariners first baseman Evan White will soon be undergoing surgery to address a sports hernia, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. It’s another big setback for White, who underwent a hip surgery last July that cut short his 2021 season.
Though White’s specific case may differ, most sports hernia operations result in roughly 4-8 weeks of missed time. It’s probably safe to project towards the higher end of that timeframe, given that White is also on the way back from his hip procedure, and he has barely played during Spring Training. With these factors in mind, White could be looking at closer to a midseason debut.
The 17th overall pick of the 2017 draft, White drew plenty of top-100 prospect buzz heading into the 2020 season, and his rookie season was highlighted by a Gold Glove Award for his work at first base. At the plate, however, White has remained a major work in progress, hitting only .165/.235/.308 over his first 306 plate appearances against big league pitching.
Between his injuries and the lack of a 2020 minor league season, White’s development has already hit some significant speedbumps, and it was already looking like he would be starting 2022 as either a backup or perhaps even in the minors to get some regular playing time. The Mariners can afford to take their time, as White was already been signed to a six-year, $24MM extension back in November 2019. Much of the money on that backloaded deal has yet to kick in, as White made $2.6MM in the first two years of the extension and is set to earn $1.4MM in 2022.
Ty France is Seattle’s top option at first base, with utilityman Abraham Toro and Luis Torrens also capable of handling the position. Divish also reports that new acquisition Jesse Winker has been working out at first base, which could represent an interesting way for the M’s to juggle their lineup (especially when star prospect Julio Rodriguez is eventually called up). Winker has never played first base in his pro career, though gaining a foothold at a new position could be helpful for Winker considering that defensive metrics haven’t been too fond of his work in the outfield.