The Kansas City Royals are about to find out what the price of success costs with their most tenured player.
Just a day after Alex Gordon and the Royals celebrated their World Series championship with 800,000 of their closest friends, the veteran outfielder declined his $14 million option so he could find out what he's worth on the open market.
The Royals now face the age-old dilemma: Do they make an offer for what Gordon is actually worth at this stage in his career or do they reward him by overpaying with a contract for what amounts to his meritorious service with the club?
Gordon has the Royals between the rock and the hard place because they’re already having to replace starting right fielder Alex Rios, who was cut loose earlier this week along with Jeremy Guthrie. If they also lose Gordon, that means Lorenzo Cain will have to break in two new outfield mates.
Of course, the Royals still have Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson, but I don’t think they’d be all that comfortable attempting to defend their title with that duo as everyday players. I’m not sure either would hold up if they had to play 150 games, though neither really has had the opportunity.
One published report on Thursday indicated that Gordon could possibly command a five-year deal in the neighborhood of id="mce_marker"00 million. I say good luck to that.
Gordon is a good player, a very good player. A star? Maybe. A $20-million-a-year superstar. Not a chance.
Gordon is going to be 32 next year. He’s coming off a severe groin injury that cost him eight weeks, which came on the heels of wrist surgery during the last offseason. Since 2011, he has averaged 18 homers and 72 RBIs — solid numbers — but his value is enhanced by four straight years of being a Gold Glover in left field.
I thought even before Gordon was hurt this year, his bat looked slow. He also doesn’t run nearly as well as he once did. He goes through pronounced slumps where it seems he hits the ball exclusively to the right side. He is probably the most patient hitter on the team, but that’s not saying a whole lot when you consider most of the Royals very seldom let a pitch go by without taking a hack.
It’s hard to imagine the Royals without Gordon, who until this year had missed only 21 games over the previous four seasons. But then again, I never thought the Royals would let Billy Butler walk and look how that turned out. The tradeoff was Kendrys Morales, who was arguably the best DH in the game this year.
I know loyal Royals fans want Gordon back no matter the cost, but his asking price is about double what he’s worth right now.
Also remember, the Royals would dearly love to bring back Ben Zobrist, but his star brightened by being the missing piece to the championship puzzle. If he vacates the premises, the Royals are left with Omar Infante and his albatross of a contract at second base, but at least he’s a veteran and could come back next year and prove this season was a fluke. If the Royals do sign Zobrist and lose Gordon, they could play Zobrist in the outfield as he is multi-dimensional.