Today was the deadline to either come to agreements for 2012 salaries for arbitration eligible players or to exchange figures for a potential future arbitration hearing. Yesterday, the Royals secured one-year deals with Brayan Pena and Chris Getz. Today, they came to terms with Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Mitch Maier and Felipe Paulino.
That leaves Alex Gordon, who many hope will receive a contract extension, as the only player who doesn’t have a deal for 2012. (Though either by extension or an arbiter’s ruling, he’ll have a contract in place at some point before spring.)
Sanchez, acquired for Melky Cabrera in the offseason, will make $5.6 million next year, his last year of arbitration. Hochevar’s deal will pay him $3.51 million after a strong second half of 2011. Paulino, who was picked up off the scrap heap last year and led all Royals starters with 8.6 K/9, gets $1.9 million and Maier will make $865,000.
The lack of an agreement with Gordon doesn’t signal that he’ll receive a contract extension, but it’s a strong hint that it could be in the works. Last year, Billy Butler was without an agreement after the deadline. Days later, the Royals announced his extension. Gordon figures to be able to cash in on a season in which he was in the top ten in many offensive categories, led the majors in outfield assists and won a Gold Glove. Historically (or at least in the last decade), outfielders around Gordon’s age and experience have gotten contract extensions of 4-5 years at an annual average salary of around $8 million a season.
If an extension isn’t announced, the Royals will go to an arbitration hearing where a judge will rule on the figures that the Royals and Gordon’s side exchange for his salary. According to Jon Heyman, the Royals and Gordon are $1.3 million apart, with Gordon requesting $5.4 million and the Royals offering $4.15 million. Arbitration hearings will take place between February 1 and February 21. Gordon made $1.4 million in 2011.