Why the Alex Gordon Signing Was Necessary for the Royals
The exodus out of Kansas City has slowed, if for one day.
He had been asking for a four-year deal worth about $100 million as a free agent, a price the Royals would certainly not be able to match. And Gordon's agent had said a number of times Gordon would not take a hometown discount.
Well, sometimes words, especially during negotiations, don't mean a whole lot.
On Wednesday, Gordon and Kansas City agreed to a four-year deal worth $72 million, good for an average annual value of $18 million a season. The contract does not have a no-trade clause or any opt-outs. However, he will become a 10-5 player later this year.
It is less than the multi-talented left fielder wanted, but in the end, he accepted a bit less to come back and play for the team that drafted him second overall back in 2005.
A Much-Needed Agreement
Gordon was badly needed by the defending champions. Even though he had an injury-marred 2015 season, he still slashed .271/.377/.432 with 40 runs scored, 48 RBI, a wRC+ of 122, an fWAR of 2.8 and a nERD of 0.80.
That is one year removed from an even better season where, in 643 plate appearances, he hit .266/.351/.432 with an identical wRC+ of 122, 19 homers, 74 RBI and 87 runs scored, all while playing elite defense in left field.
It is that elite defense that made him worth 6.6, 5.5, 3.7 and 6.6 fWAR in the four season prior to last year.
Gordon is not a slugger but has hit more than 20 homers twice in his career and hit 19 in another. And it is that defense that truly makes him so valuable.
Most Defensive Runs Saved, OFs since 2011 107 Jason Heyward 94 Alex Gordon* 75 Lorenzo Cain * 34 more than next-closest LF (Starling Marte)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 6, 2016
So while he is not an elite power hitter by any means, his run prevention will continue to make the Kansas City defense one of the very best in the game.
The one drawback to Gordon is his age. This year will be his age-32 season, and it's likely that, as he gets older, his defense could suffer. But being that it's just a four-year deal, it's likely it won't erode too much until perhaps the very end of the contract.
All in all, the Royals held onto one of their cornerstone players, and for a price that was reasonable for everyone.
In this case, everybody wins. Except for American League Central clubs.