Could the KC Royals know something about Alex Gordon?
By Jordan Foote
The KC Royals’ recent moves raise several questions. Could the team secretly be dropping hints about the Alex Gordon situation?
Until Friday afternoon, the KC Royals were having a very quiet offseason. That changed when the team signed third baseman Maikel Franco to a one-year contract. Subsequently, Whit Merrifield was moved to center field and Hunter Dozier switched to right field. These decisions were met with mixed reviews, but they could indicate something bigger is on the horizon regarding outfielder Alex Gordon.
There’s a lot to unpack here. Yes, Franco is a third baseman. Signing the 27-year-old to a $3 million deal (potential for $4M with incentives taken into account) is a solid move. With that said, Dozier broke out in 2018 and cemented himself as a part of the club’s plans for the future. Although his performance at the plate was tremendous, he struggled to man his bag with any type of proficiency. Moving him to a corner outfield spot could bring out the best of his athletic tools.
Merrifield is a jack-of-all-trades player, capable of playing solid defense at various positions and being quite the productive hitter along the way. The jury is still out on just how good he’ll be as a center fielder but nonetheless, he has the chance to improve his ever-growing value as a member of the Royals.
That leaves left field as a question mark. Gordon has yet to announce whether or not he’ll return for a 14th season after posting a .266/.345/.396 line in 2019. Should he return, Kansas City would have a multitude of bodies competing for a finite amount of outfield spots (three, to be exact). Both Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling, both impressive athletes and poor hitters, were originally slated to compete for the starting center field gig in 2020. That’s now off the table.
With Gordon in the fold, both Phillips and Starling would be relegated to fourth/fifth outfielder spots. This development would not only stunt their growth as players, but it would also indicate that the organization has essentially given up on them.
Without Gordon, things make a bit more sense. Phillips and Starling would be allowed to split time, helping the Royals paint a clearer picture of which one(s) belonged on the team in 2020. With a full 162-game season worth of plate appearances to go around, providing both guys with one last shot to show whether or not they can hit at the MLB level would be ideal.
By occupying both center and right for the most part, could the KC Royals already have a gut feeling about what Gordon’s plans are? His return to the team, as awesome as it would be, would only make a murky situation even more difficult to figure out. Perhaps the organization is setting things up for his retirement.
Or, on the other hand, maybe Moore and new manager Mike Matheny aren’t big fans of Phillips and/or Starling. One thing is for sure, though: The next couple of months will answer a ton of questions.