Despite expectations to the contrary, Alex Gordon and/or Ben Zobrist may not be leaving the Kansas City Royals.
There are certain realities that surround the Kansas City Royals payroll. The Royals are never going to be one of those teams among the top five in salaries, competing against the likes of the Yankees and Dodgers for the top free agents and attempting to create the best team that money can buy. Unless players take a discount, or sign a team friendly extension, then the KC Royals will be constantly looking to restock their team with bargains or more home grown talent.
With that being the case, it has been expected that Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist would both be departing the Royals. Both players have had quite a bit of interest, and given their projected earnings on the open market, it seemed to be a matter of time before they officially left the Royals. However, according to Andy McCullough, that may not be the case, as the Royals are hopeful they can retain one of the two free agents.
Of course, different factors will determine whether or not the Kansas City Royals can retain either player. Not only will the free agent market, and the financial landscape, dictate the likeliness of Gordon or Zobrist remaining in Kansas City, but their willingness to take a bit of discount to remain could be a major factor as well.
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It is also interesting that the KC Royals did not mention which player they are most hopeful of retaining. Alex Gordon is the home grown talent, a local player who overcame his struggles to become the best defensive left fielder in baseball. Ben Zobrist, even if he does not have the same ties to the team or the area, did name his newborn daughter Blaise Royal Zobrist, and has stated his desire to return to Kansas City.
With the Royals theoretically able to increase their payroll even further, given the influx of financial support that comes from winning the World Series, it is certainly conceivable that they could keep one of these players. Even though they are faced with the reality that both players could depart, the fact that the Royals are still hopeful that one or the other will remain in Kansas City is certainly a change from the times when both would be virtually guaranteed to depart.
Niether Ben Zobrist nor Alex Gordon are guaranteed to return to the Kansas City Royals next season, but there is hope. For a franchise that had been used to seeing top players leave in free agency, it is certainly a step in the right direction.