Yesterday Alex Gordon and Robinson Tejeda filed for salary arbitration. According to Dick Kaegel, the team is expected to exchange salary numbers tomorrow. As Royals fans I think we can expect both players to continue to improve during 2010. The front office should still be in “wait and see” mode with Alex, but Robinson Tejeda should be offered a multi-year contract immediately.
Due to the hip injury and subpar performance last season, Gordon won’t be able to demand what he otherwise could have if he had stayed healthy. Still, with his draft status, minor league track record, solid major league seasons in 2007 and 2008, and 2.0 and 2.4 WAR respectively, I’d imagine his 2010 salary will be in the vicinity of $2.4 million. It will be interesting to see how the organization treats the negotiations with Alex. I could see his final salary push above $3 million and I could see it right around $2 million. If they still believe in his ability to become an All-Star player, a little good will on their part now could go a long way in contract negotiations in the future.
Incidentally, Bill James has projected Gordon will hit 0.272/.359/.463 with 20 HR, 12 SB, 67 BB, and 121 SO in 150 games during 2010. Those numbers would represent a slight improvement in 2010 compared to 2008 when he hit 0.260/.351/.432, but it will not be the breakout that we have all be waiting for. The other two projection systems, included on FanGraphs, Marcel and CHONE, aren’t quite as bullish on Gordon’s 2010 season, but the fan projections are pretty much in sync with James. Assuming he’s healthy for the entire season, I would expect him to outperform the projections. I don’t see a breakout along the lines of Butler’s 2009 second half, but rather a 0.280/.370/.490 showing with 25 HR. I also expect him to play average to above average defense at the hot corner.
When it comes to Robinson Tejeda, I have no idea what to expect, because I don’t know whether the Royals view him as a starter or a reliever. I assume Tejeda and his representation will go into the negotiations with the belief that he is a starter and should be paid as such. I’m not sure which role he is best suited for long term, but last season he performed very well in both roles which should work to his advantage.
The 2010 contracts of Davies and Bannister should help both sides build some parameters. Bannister agreed to a $2.3 million salary in 2010 after a 2009 where he was 2.8 wins above replacement. In three seasons with the Royals BB has accumulated a WAR of 7.0.
Kyle Davies agreed to a $1.8 million salary in 2010 after a 2009 WAR of 0.8. His 2008 WAR was 1.9.
Tejeda’s 2009 WAR was 1.3 and he has been an above league pitcher 4 of his 5 seasons in the major leagues. Despite that, his 19 starts in 2007 with the Rangers really hold down his career numbers and his career ERA+ which sits at 99. Tejeda pitched 95.1 innings, all as a starter, in 2007 for Texas. He finished that season with a 6.61 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, and 1.15 SO/BB, but that season was clearly the outlier compared to the rest of his career.
Robinson Tejeda is immensely talented and has shown signs during the last two seasons that he is starting to harness his considerable stuff. He has cut his H/9 in half and has increased his SO/9 in the process. As a member of the Rangers, he had a 1.67 WHIP, 10.2 H/9, 5.0 BB/9, 5.8 SO/9 and an ERA+ of 80. Since joining the Royals on June 24th, 2008, he has a 1.19 WHIP to go along with a 5.2 H/9, 5.5 BB/9, 10.2 SO/9 and an ERA+ of 128.
I think he can reasonably expect a 2010 salary of between $1.5 and $2.0 million. However, based on his stuff and his marked improvement since coming to Kansas City, I think the Royals should try to sign him to a multi-year deal right now. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, just something that benefits both the team and the player. Perhaps something along the lines of a 3-year $8.5 million contract that pays $2.0, $2.75, and $3.75 million in each of the seasons, with some performance bonuses based on innings pitched if he spends time in the rotation. Would that be enough to get a deal done? Maybe not, but it would be a good starting point.
The bottom line here is that Tejeda is one of the few guys on the roster that has a long term future with the team and the Royals need to act accordingly sooner rather than later.
On Wednesday the Royals hired former Brewers manager Ned Yost as a special assistant to baseball operations. I think adding Yost’s voice to the front office is an excellent move. The guy knows baseball, and has shown the ability to work with and develop young players. I certainly wouldn’t want him to manage the Royals, but as a teacher and scout, he definitely has value.
If you’re not a fan of negativity, you should absolutely steer clear of reading Jeff Passan’s article on Yahoo! Sports. With a title like, A Royal disaster of an offseason you can probably guess where it is going.
He closes his post with a Haiku, so I came up with one of my own. My mom is a big fan of the haiku format so I’m sure she will be proud.
Writer Jeff Passan
Can suck on an old lemon
Kansas City rules!
Seriously though, it’s pretty hard to argue with his take on the way things have gone this offseason at the ML level.
After reading that, we need to close with some happy thoughts. As a Royals fan we only need to hear the name Greinke whispered in the wind and a smile spreads across our face. Fortunately Lee Warren, of Royals Reflections, goes one step further and recaps Zack’s 4th start of the 2009 season.