Kansas City Royals fans breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday when it was announced that longtime fan favorite and three-time All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon had agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract that basically assures him of playing his entire career with the team that signed him in 2005.
Did the Royals overpay? Sure.
Was it a bad move? Surely not.
I consider this is a lifetime achievement contract. Gordon probably was underpaid at some point earlier in his career and now the Royals are making amends.
Gordon will be 32 when the Royals try to defend their World Series championship this season. His contract calls for him to receive $20 million in each of his final two years, which is a lot for a player who doesn’t overwhelm you with his offensive numbers and showed signs of decline this past season in terms of outfield range and health. After playing at least 151 games for four straight years, Gordon barely cracked the 100-game mark this season.
Gordon’s value, though, can’t be determined strictly by numbers. He’s a four-time Golden Glove winner and a consistent hitter, though his lifetime average is only .269 and he's hit 20 or more homers only twice. But he's the face of the Royals, especially after they cut loose Billy Butler after 2014.
Gordon is also getting paid for sticking around during those insufferable years. Even when the Royals were losing 100 games a season, Gordon was at his post game after game, giving no less than 100 percent.
Somehow, I just couldn’t imagine Gordon in another jersey, much like it would have seemed strange had George Brett given in to temptation and signed with, say, the Yankees or Red Sox — teams that could have paid him far more handsomely.
This contract shows the Glass family is serious about keeping the Royals competitive. They face some huge decisions in the coming years with players like Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, their core group. You have to believe some of these players at some point will be leaving, because even with all the extra revenue flowing in because of their success, there comes a breaking point.
The Royals are going to have to start developing some offensive players. The emphasis has been on pitching and defense in recent drafts and two of the times they went for offensive players, they were head-scratchers. Christian Colon probably will never be anything more than a nice back-up utility player, while the high pick of Bubba Starling is looking to be more and more like a bust. He’s a great athlete, but at some point he has to start tearing it up and making his way up the food chain. He’s been spinning his wheels in the lower minors and he’s no longer that kid out of high school. He’ll be 24 before next season is over and I’m sure when he was drafted, the Royals had him penciled in as a regular by the 2016 season.
Gordon’s signing assures the Royals of not opening the season with Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando as starters flanking Cain. Somehow I wouldn’t have seen the Royals in the playoff chase with that outfield.