According to a report from the Kansas City Star’s Andy McCullough, Alex Gordon is already planning on picking up his player option for the 2016 season. If Gordon does indeed follow through with that decision, the Royals will pay him $13.25 million for that year, which would be less than the star left fielder would command on the free agent market.
It should go without saying that holding onto Gordon after next season would be terrific for a franchise that has had difficulties signing premier free agents in previous years. That would give the Royals yet another season of excellent production at a below-market rate, which is even more important for an organization that needs to make every dollar stretch as far as possible.
Gordon has been one of the most valuable players in baseball in the last 4 seasons, accumulating the 6th most fWAR (21.4) since his breakout 2011 campaign. He’s provided elite defense, and is on his way to winning his fourth consecutive Gold Glove. He’s been about 25% better than the league average at the plate. He’s also an excellent baserunner, despite not possessing elite speed. Gordon can do it all, and he does it for a cost that doesn’t prohibit the Royals from spending dollars on other players.
In 2016, several of the team’s young players will be getting more expensive in arbitration, so having other guys who provide surplus value is critical. Gordon will be paid like a league average player, when he’s definitively one of the best overall players in the game.
As an added bonus, Gordon’s indication that he’d like to stay in Kansas City for at least two more seasons could open the door to the possibility of another contract extension that could keep Gordon in a Royals’ uniform for an even longer period of time. McCullough mentions that the time for contract negotiations would be this coming spring, so it will be very interesting to see how that situation develops.
Any discussions of an extension, however, would require Gordon to take a bit of a hometown discount, as people around the league tend to think he could command a contract in the range of Hunter Pence, who signed a 5 year, $90 million contract to stay in the Giants’ organization. That kind of money is likely more than the Royals would want to spend, even for the face of their team. I’m guessing they’d need to get Gordon and his agent, Casey Close, down to around $75 million before a deal could be struck, although with escalating revenues from television deals, the Royals may be able to go higher.
While Gordon is 30 years old, he is a tireless worker and keeps himself in peak physical condition, so he may be able to stave off the effects of aging for several more years. Even if he never replicates his 2011 offensive numbers, Gordon’s combination of defense, baserunning, and offense should continue to be extremely valuable to the Royals for 2016 and beyond.
An extension is far from a guarantee at this point, of course, as Dayton Moore isn’t very focused on anything other than the team’s playoff race, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something happens in February or March next year. It’s obvious Gordon loves this city and franchise, and the Royals likely see how important he is to their success. If nothing else, it appears the two sides will probably be together for at least two more seasons after 2014, and that is absolutely great news.