When the Royals didn’t come to an agreement with Alex Gordon last month, it put the two parties in line for an arbitration hearing.
The suspicion has been that the lack of an agreement on Gordon’s salary has been that the Royals were close to an extension for the Gold Glove winning outfielder. As it is now, the league has set a date for a hearing to decide between the figures exchanged by Gordon and the team for February 16. At that point, arbiters will determine if Gordon will make $5.45 million (his submitted number) or $4.15 million (the Royals figure).
Last year, Gordon made $1.4 million for a career year where he reached 20 homers for the first time in his career, surpassed 45 doubles and put up an .879 OPS. And yes, he won that Gold Glove.
Value-wise, the Royals got a steal for his salary, as he put up 5.9 bWAR, and 6.9 fWAR. By FanGraphs calculations, his season was worth a robust $31.3 million*.
*If you take stock in such mathematics.
The Royals still have opportunity to come to an agreement for the 2012 season even if they don’t get an extension hammered out. Negotiations for said extension can continue as well. Last month, I compared other outfielders who’d received extensions with similar production to that point in their careers and the rough average came out to 4.6 years for $34.3 million guaranteed (and 5.2 years for $39.5 when considering option years and money).
Gordon turns 28 in exactly a week, so he’s a bit older than most of the other outfielders, but a deal in the neighborhood of 4-5 years would still keep Gordon with the club through years that should be productive. He’s finally been healthy for a full year and seemed rejuvenated after multiple years of battling injuries and being shuttled back and forth from Kauffman to Rosenblatt Stadium.
There’s a risk involved in any extension – and at Gordon’s age, he’s at a point where some players are considered to be at their peak, so it may just be downhill from here. Again, though, he’s had injury issues in the past and after a full year in Kansas City and without injury (other than his rough rookie season), he may only now be reaching the potential that made him the second overall pick in 2005.
Dayton Moore has never gone to an arbitration hearing as Royals GM, so the history suggests that he won’t this time. With two years of team control left, though, neither side is under pressure to finish a deal. I’d estimate the odds the team and Gordon agree to an extension to be 65% likely, the two sides agree to a deal in between the submitted salary figures at 30% and an actual hearing at 5%. (That’s purely unscientific, of course.)