The Mariners announced this afternoon that first baseman Evan White has been activated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. Left-hander Matthew Boyd seems on the verge of following White in returning from the IL, as Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports that he’ll be active for the M’s series in Detroit that kicks off tomorrow.
White has yet to play in the majors this season. The former first round pick underwent sports hernia surgery in March, and he’s spent the year on the IL. White initially began a minor league rehab assignment in mid-May, but he suffered a setback and was pulled off the assignment on two separate occasions. It wasn’t until the second week of August that he was able to get back into game action, returning to Tacoma on August 9.
Position players are allotted up to 20 days on rehab stints, so the Mariners had to activate White once that window closed. He still has all three minor league option years remaining, though, so they can keep him in Tacoma even as he reclaims his spot on the 40-man roster. White has struggled in 22 Triple-A games this season, although that’s largely to be expected as he tries to regain his timing after an extended absence. He underwent season-ending surgery on his left hip last July. The 26-year-old hasn’t had a consistent run of playing time since May 2021, so it’s only naturally he’d battle some rust in the early going.
The Mariners signed White to a $24MM guarantee in November 2019, committing to the then top prospect before he’d ever played a major league game. The club clearly believed he’d be their everyday first baseman for an extended stretch, moving to buy out three potential free agent years. That hasn’t transpired, as White has stumbled to a .165/.235/.308 line with a massive 37.6% strikeout rate in 306 MLB plate appearances between 2020-21. Ty France has long since passed him on the depth chart, but White is still guaranteed $18MM over the next three seasons. He’d only appeared in eight Triple-A games before this season, so he figures to be in line for an extended stretch against upper minors pitching now that he’s back to health.
Boyd has also yet to play in the big leagues this season, and his first appearance will be his team debut. The left-hander has spent the bulk of his career with the Tigers. He was a generally durable member of the rotation between 2017-20, starting 25+ games in all three full seasons and taking a full slate of 12 turns during the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Boyd struck out over 30% of opponents in 2019 and emerged as an in-demand trade candidate that summer, but the Tigers never found an offer to their liking and held onto him.
That didn’t pan out, as Boyd was hit hard in 2020. He looked on his way to a bit of a bounceback last year, but he began battling arm discomfort in June. An August return proved short-lived, and Boyd underwent flexor tendon surgery last September. That led Detroit to non-tender him after the season, and the Giants added him on a $5.2MM guarantee over the offseason. San Francisco intended for him to contribute to a playoff push, but the Giants struggled enough they dealt a few veterans at this summer’s trade deadline. Boyd was part of the sell-off, joining Curt Casali in heading to Seattle for a pair of minor leaguers.
While Boyd never suited up in black and orange, he’s now in position to pitch in a pennant race. Boyd has allowed just two runs with 14 strikeouts and no walks in eight innings of relief for Tacoma on a rehab stint in the past few weeks. He’ll step into a Seattle bullpen that skews extremely right-handed, giving manager Scott Servais a southpaw complement. The Washington native will look to help the Mariners snap their two-decade playoff drought while showing well in advance of a return trip to the open market.
The Mariners had a pair of vacancies on the 40-man roster, so no additional move was necessary to accommodate White’s reinstatement. The club will only need to make an active roster transaction to finalize Boyd’s return.