In case you’ve been away from the internet and TV today, Alex Gordon re-signed with the Royals. In a day, at least in social media circles, that’s being dubbed #HappyAlexGordonDay, Kansas City rejoices to return one of their, arguably, favorite faces of the franchise. This is a great sports day and I’ll tell you why.
First, let’s dispel the thought from the non-sports-inclined folks. Your belief that $18M (on average) for four years is too much to pay anyone playing, as the ladies say, “sportsball” is heard and understood. However, that’s an entirely different conversation for another time. For now, just chalk it up to baseball (or sportsball) economics.
Alex Gordon signing for $72M is a good deal for the Royals. I’m sure some may disagree, but the fact is he could’ve gotten more elsewhere. I can understand that some of you believe that the market had cooled for him and that the Royals could’ve gotten him for less, but that’s not necessarily true. Considering the other outfielders on the market, Cespedes and Upton, will likely garner more money in free agency, the Royals got a known commodity at a good price.
Sure, Gordon’s offensive numbers over the past couple of years have been down, but his defensive numbers have been solid. He’s been an All-Star three times, a Gold Glove winner four times, and a Platinum Glove winner once. He’s also a clubhouse leader. When someone asks how the Royals go about approaching something, the answer is, “Watch Gordon.” To many, that’s invaluable.
The most important aspect, in my opinion, why this was a good deal for the Royals, is that it sends a message to the the less tenured Royals. Yes, this is the largest contract in Royals history and, in a small market, that may lead people to believe that it’s far too excessive. I fervently disagree. This informs the younger core of the Royals that the team is willing to pay you for your stellar service, but they need to be reasonable. If you’re just about the cash-grab, and at this point it’s difficult to say if the younger core is trending this way, then this team will be forever grateful for your contributions, but they just can’t compete. If, however, you’re willing to take slightly less to be part of a winning organization, then they are undeniably interested in keeping you.
Gordon’s contract allows the Royals to add more pieces as General Manager Dayton Moore sees fit. The contract will reportedly pay Gordon $12M in 2015, $16M in 2016, $20M in 2017 and 2018, and offers a $4M buyout option in 2019 (or pay him the mutual option, $23M, if he stays, which is highly doubtful). With the TV contracts due up for early renewal in 2018, this poises the Royals to pay their other core members Cain, Escobar, Hosmer, Moustakas, and Perez in the coming years. Other than Hosmer, none of the others should break the bank (unless they radically outperform their current seasons) when they approach free agency. Hosmer may just be the first $100M Royal player in history. That will depend upon future playoff & World Series appearances. Still, Gordon’s contract tells them that the Royals are willing to pay a decent value (not overpay) to keep a winning organization together. The question in the coming years is, how many are willing to sacrifice a little (okay, maybe a lot of) cash to keep the core of brotherhood together? What will they want their legacies to be?