Alex Gordon has recovered from a slow start this season after off-season surgery on his wrist, to post a solid .269/.380/.449 triple slash for an OPS (on base plus slugging) of .829.
Heyman cites Gordon’s local ties as a major reason why the front office believes they could land a deal.
In his Inside Baseball column on Friday, Heyman wrote:
"The Royals plan to try to do what they can to keep Alex Gordon long-term. While he has a $13.25 million player option he technically could exercise, he’s an elite player and no one can see him simply picking that up without an extension. The Royals never thought they could play for James Shields, who’s from Los Angeles and lives in San Diego, but Gordon, who’s a lifetime Royal from Nebraska, is another story …"
This fall, in the middle the Kansas City Royals run to the 2014 playoffs, Alex Gordon indicated he WOULD pick up his option because he wanted to finish his career in Kansas City. This winter, he backtracked from that assertion, probably when the reality of how much money he would be giving up set in (read, his agent probably talked sense into him).
I must confess, I find myself divided over this news.
On one hand, I’m encouraged that management is trying to keep their core together rather than watching this team scatter to the four winds while moaning about their small-market status.
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On the other hand, Alex Gordon will be 32-years-old next season. The harsh reality is that the KC Royals have probably already gotten the best years of Gordon’s career. What makes Alex Gordon special is his defense, and aging curves indicate that players’ defensive skills fade even faster than offense.
Now, it is true that all indications are that Alex Gordon keeps himself in phenomenal shape. Gordon is obsessive about his conditioning and exercise. Consequently, he might delay the onset of the aging curve better than most players.
Indeed, Alex Gordon posted his highest defensive UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) in his career in 2014 at age 30 (2014 UZR 25.0), but that might be something of a statistical anomaly. UZR is a comparative stat, and Gordon’s high rating is more due to other left-fielders falling off rather than Alex Gordon improving.
In fact, early in the 2015 season, Gordon’s UZR/150 (current UZR prorated over 150 games) is only 5.4.
If Alex Gordon’s glove falls off like say, former defensive whiz Torii Hunter, his future value would be severely compromised. Is this a player you want to invest in when many other, younger, players such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain are heading toward free-agency?
That answer is for KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore to answer, and he has more information that I do. Specifically, how willing are Moustakas or Hosmer, who are both represented by super-agent Scott Boras, to negotiate an extension?
Moore could decide the Alex Gordon is the guy who is willing to stay in Kansas City. Perhaps Moore believes Gordon would have value as the team’s elder stateman on future rosters that extends beyond his on-field performance.
Dayton Moore, however, will need to be careful. Even though he has more money to play with now that attendance is up, he can’t afford many mistakes if he wants to maintain a consistent winner in Kansas City.