You’ve surely heard by now, the Royals and Alex Gordon have agreed to a four-year contract, valued at around $72 million.
It was a drama played out longer than any sane Royals fan would have hoped for, but in the end, the only thing that really matters is that Gordon will remain in Kansas City for the foreseeable future.
The key takeaway from this is the Royals will have their core together for another two years. This is great news. Nothing is certain, but they are in a great place to stay in the mix for the upcoming season and 2017 as well. Remember, after 2017 Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar will be eligible for free agency. There’s a tendency among the sabermetrically inclined to dismiss the idea of competitive windows, but with limited reinforcements coming from the minor league pipeline, this feels very much like the Royals have one wide open. That’s one reason why this Gordon deal is so important to the Royals. It maintains there competitiveness at an optimal time.
It’s worth noting that Gordon now becomes the highest paid player in franchise history in terms of total dollars on a contract and average annual value. Despite all the protestations we heard at the opening of the Hot Stove season the Royals would maintain a payroll close to their 2015 level, if they wish to remain competitive, they have to keep spending. It’s just simple economics. The cost of wins increases each season. Teams serious about competing make the appropriate adjustments. The Royals have done this going back to 2012 and The Wade Davis Trade.
As of this writing, the dollar breakdown isn’t known for certain. There are rumblings the contract is backloaded, which gives the team freedom to pursue another arm for the rotation. Again, with uncertainty surrounding the starting pitching, the flexibility to add another candidate for the rotation is massive for this team. It allows them to continue to build around the core.
Without knowing the actual dollar amount for the 2016 season, I still feel comfortable currently projecting a payroll between $120 and $125 million. That’s pretty close to the number I felt it should be when we started the offseason. Remember, that’s a rough estimate as we don’t know the details on the Gordon contract, nor do we know how the arbitration cases of Cain, Moustakas, Danny Duffy and others will conclude. We do know the Royals have seven players eligible and estimates project them to collect around $21 million. Cot’s Contracts has the Royals on the books for $85 million right now, so if you project $15 million for Gordon in 2016, the math is pretty straightforward. Either way, the Royals have outspent their previous Opening Day payroll record and still seem to have some room to maneuver.
Following back to back AL pennants and a World Championship, Dayton Moore has given this generation of Royals fans the final piece – an icon. As fans, we love this team and we desperately want the players to love us back. I cannot tell you how cool it was at the parade to see the Royals wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “Thank You, Kansas City.” Are you kidding? No. Thank you!
In the glory years of the early days of the franchise, the Royals had a pair of icons. George Brett and Frank White won titles and played their whole careers in Kansas City. They created a legacy that remains to this day. It I s something I’m certain the younger generation tired of hearing about, but there presence has been vitally important to the team and the city.
Now, we have a new generation that has been privileged to celebrate winning a title. We just needed to find an icon to make it complete. To give this team it’s forever identity. To build a legacy. Today, Alex Gordon is truly Forever Royal.
What a great day to be a Royals fan. Again.