Alex Gordon Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: A-Rod, BoSox, Bryant, Ventura, Gordon, Duda

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.

Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…

  • Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
  • The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
  • White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
  • The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
  • Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
  • Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
  • The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
  • Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.

Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.


No Extension Talks Between Royals, Alex Gordon

Though Alex Gordon is entering his last guaranteed year under contract with the Royals, the outfielder tells Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star that “not one bit” of talks have taken place about an extension.  “I love it here.  This is where I want to play,” Gordon said.  “But you have to realize the situation. Maybe it won’t happen, maybe it will.”

Gordon has a $13.25MM player option for 2016 that he was originally intending to exercise as of last summer, though he said last month that he wasn’t sure if he would pick his option up.  If Gordon has a good 2015 season, declining the option would put him in line for an expensive multi-year contract on the free agent market.

Mellinger’s piece outlines the pros and cons of extending Gordon from the Royals’ perspective.  On the pro side, Gordon has been a productive player, they have no ready-made replacement for his bat or outstanding left field glove, and the popular Gordon has been a “face of the franchise” for the last decade.  On the con side, a Gordon extension would surely be the most expensive contract in Royals history and they may not want to spend that much on a player who will be entering his age-32 season in 2016.

Gordon did undergo wrist surgery in December and has yet to appear in any Spring Training action, so it could be that the Royals simply want to make sure that he’s recovered before discussing a new deal.  Still, I agree with Mellinger that it’s rather surprising that Kansas City hasn’t at least broached the subject of an extension with Gordon or his representatives at Excel Sports Management.  Most players don’t want to negotiate new contracts once the season begins, so even if no agreement is reached now, K.C. could at least lay some groundwork for further talks after the season.



Alex Gordon May Decline Player Option

Last August, Alex Gordon told reporters he intended to exercise his $13.25MM player option for the 2016 season. Now he may decline the option, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. When asked earlier today, Gordon said, “I don’t know the answer right now. I don’t know how this year is going to go, or how it’s going to look at the end of the year.”

Gordon is open to an extension with the Royals, although no negotiations are active. While some players set a deadline for contract talks, Gordon is willing to discuss the matter during the season. He indicated a desire to remain in Kansas City, saying “[It] almost feels like my hometown.”

The situation could become awkward for the Royals. McCullough compares Gordon to Hunter Pence who earned a five-year, $90MM contract with the Giants. The largest contract in Royals history is the $55MM paid to Gil Meche and Mike Sweeney. An extension to Gordon similar to that of Pence could affect their ability to retain Eric Hosmer or Yordano Ventura.

Club payroll is at $110MM with $66.8MM committed to 2016. Team options for Wade Davis and Alcides Escobar along with arbitration for Greg Holland, Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, and Mike Moustakas could push that figure close to $100MM. One rival official suggested the club is in a catch-22. If Gordon has a strong season, he could price his way out of the market. If he struggles, then they’re stuck with the player option.

In his recent power rankings for the 2016 offseason, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Gordon as the seventh best potential free agent. Pointing to Shin-Soo Choo, Dierkes believes Gordon is young enough to merit a nine-figure deal. He figures a $110MM guarantee might be enough to keep him in Kansas City.


AL Central Notes: Royals, Aoki, Butler, Lovullo, Tigers

Though the Royals are coming off their best season in nearly three decades, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the team will soon need to turn its focus to some difficult offseason decisions. Industry expectations, according to Martino, are that the Royals will at least listen to trade offers for its more expensive players — including Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas — if other teams come calling this winter. Gordon’s case is the most pressing, as he’s only controlled through 2015 at $12.5MM before he has a $12.5MM player option. Gordon has publicly stated that he plans to exercise that option, though it’d be a surprise, to say the least, considering he could be in line for a much more sizable long-term commitment next offseason if he turns it down. Martino also notes that the Royals will have interest in re-signing Nori Aoki this offseason. From my vantage point, the team needn’t feel pressure to move any of the three previously mentioned players, though I’ll cover that at greater length in the upcoming Royals Offseason Outlook.

For the time being, here’s more on the AL Champs and the rest of their division…

  • The Royals are expected to decline their $12.5MM option on designated hitter Billy Butler in favor of a $1MM buyout, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The move isn’t exactly unexpected after the down season he had at the plate. However, Heyman adds that the team may look to pursue Torii Hunter, as they did seven years ago, in the event that Aoki signs elsewhere as a free agent. The Kansas City Star’s Andy McCullough also hears that Butler’s option is likely to be declined.
  • The Twins‘ front office flew out to Torey Lovullo’s home in California to conduct their second interview with him on Monday this week, tweets Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, but there’s still been no decision reached as to who will be the team’s next manager. Lovullo and Paul Molitor are believed to be the favorites.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski spoke candidly to reporters, including Matthew Mowery of the Oakland Press, about the team’s lack of financial flexibility this offseason. Said Dombrowski: “We have the most generous owner in baseball you could possibly have in sports. But we’re in a situation where $200 million payrolls aren’t what is common here. … It’s a situation where we’re really in a spot that if you’re going to have four starters being paid and you’re going to have a couple superstars in the middle of your lineup, that means there’s not as much availability to do some other things. And you have to determine what you’re going to do.”

Alex Gordon Plans To Exercise 2016 Player Option

Alex Gordon says he plans to exercise his $13.25MM player option with the Royals for 2016, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. Gordon is in the midst of a four-year, $37.5MM deal that covered, or covers, the 2012 through 2015 seasons.

Assuming Gordon continues to produce next year, exercising the option would be a highly unusual decision. Declining the option would allow Gordon to become a free agent after 2015, and he’ll head into the 2016 season as a 32-year-old. If he exercises the option, he could leave lots of money on the table. His numbers the last four seasons (he’s hitting .282/.357/.446 this year while providing plenty of defensive value in the outfield, resulting in 5.6 fWAR so far) indicate that he’s worth far more than $13.25MM.

Exercising the option would also cause Gordon to hit free agency at an older age, reducing his potential for a lucrative long-term deal. McCullough writes that Gordon compares favorably to Hunter Pence, who received a $90MM deal from the Giants, and reports that executives throughout the game feel Gordon should be able to get five years and $75MM-$90MM if he declined the option and hit the market after the 2015 season.

Gordon is represented by Casey Close, who did not comment on Gordon’s option. “Casey’s not the boss of me,” says Gordon. “I’m sure he’ll have things to say and whatnot. But when it comes down to it, it’s my decision.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article1281436.html#storylink=cpy

Central Links: McLeod, Alcantara, Vargas, Gordon, Willingham

The Cubs have given senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod a two-year extension, reports Scott Miller of MLB Network Radio and FOX Sports San Diego (Twitter link). While president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer may have more name recognition, McLeod was also a key member of the Red Sox front office alongside Epstein and Hoyer last decade. He followed Hoyer to the Padres when Hoyer served as San Diego’s GM and moved to Chicago alongside Hoyer and Epstein when Chicago restructured its front office.

Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…

  • Top Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara is getting a two-day promotion while Darwin Barney is on paternity leave, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. While he stresses that it’s just for two days, Cubs fans will be getting their first look at a Top 100 prospect who GM Jed Hoyer has said could get a lengthier look this season.
  • Royals lefty Jason Vargas will be out three to four weeks after being rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy today, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. That’s not the only bad news on the injury front in K.C., either, as McCullough adds that Alex Gordon will undergo an MRI on his wrist. “I can’t swing,” Gordon told reporters. Manager Ned Yost thinks Gordon can avoid the DL, McCullough tweets, but he doesn’t expect him to play in a big series against the division-leading Tigers.
  • ESPN’s Jim Bowden looks at what it would take for contending teams to acquire Josh Willingham from the Twins (ESPN Insider required). Bowden feels that the slugger’s modest salary (he’s earning $7MM in 2014) and relatively low prospect cost make him a good fit for the Mariners, Royals and Reds.

Quick Hits: Yankees, Royals, Orioles, Hochevar

MLBTR would like to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas.  Here's tonight's look around baseball..

  • Yankees catcher Austin Romine could make an impact this season following the departure of Russell Martin, writes MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff.  Martin signed a two-year, $17MM deal with the Pirates in November.  The Yankees still could make a play for a starting catcher, but as it stands, they'll head into spring training with Romine, Chris Stewart, and Francisco Cervelli.
  • Royals left fielder Alex Gordon appreciates the moves that General Manager Dayton Moore has made in order to win in the short-term, writes Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star.  “To be honest, it seems like we’ve been sitting on prospects the last six years…It’s given them that option to be able to do that and go get a guy like James Shields and some of the other guys they’ve picked up. Yeah, it’s a risk-reward, but it’s something that you sometimes need to pull off," said the soon-to-be 29-year-old.  Gordon is signed through the next three seasons with a player option in 2016.
  • Some have theorized that the Orioles won't be able to bank on the good fortune that they enjoyed last season in 2013, but Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com notes that the club has plenty of setbacks to overcome.  The O's roadblocks led them to go through 52 players in the regular season and 178 roster moves in total.
  • While many Royals fans would like to see them dump Luke Hochevar and Jeff Francoeur, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter) doesn't see either player being given away for nothing.  Either player could be traded, but Kansas City will want something of consequence in return.  The Royals reportedly called the Rockies about Hochevar earlier this month, but nothing materialized from those talks.
  • Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looked ahead to the biggest storylines of 2013.  The Blue Jays now find themselves at center stage after acquiring R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and others this offseason.  The Dodgers will also feel immense pressure to win as they'll claim the highest payroll in baseball in 2013.
  • Left-hander Scott Kazmir is grateful for another shot at the major leagues, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.  The soon-to-be 29-year-old inked a minor league deal with the Indians late last week.  Kazmir last pitched at an All-Star level in 2008, when he posted a 3.49 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.

NL East Notes: Santana, Braves, Reed Johnson

Here are a few Wednesday morning NL East updates out of Nashville:

  • The Mets would be open to eating a portion of the money remaining on Johan Santana's deal in a trade, but so far the team hasn't received any inquiries, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • The Braves are seeking a pair of bench players, one right-handed hitter and one lefty, says David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Reed Johnson appears to be the team's top target as a righty bat, though he's still exploring his options, according to GM Frank Wren: "We’ve expressed an interest in bringing him back. He’s expressed an interest in coming back. But we’re just not there yet."
  • Atlanta also continues to explore trades for impact bats, according to O'Brien, who says the Braves are believed to have inquired on Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Dexter Fowler, and Shin-Soo Choo, among others.
  • Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com looks into the remaining items on the Nationals' offseason to-do list.

Royals, Mets Discussed R.A. Dickey

The Royals have talked to the Mets about R.A. Dickey as they continue to search for a top-of-the-rotation starter, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reported this week that the Royals have had discussions about trading Wil Myers for Jon Lester or James Shields.

The Royals aren’t looking to trade Myers and have no interest in moving Salvador Perez, Heyman writes. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are close to untouchable and the Royals aren’t inclined to trading Alcides Escobar, either. Instead, the Royals would prefer to send the Mets younger prospects in a deal for Dickey. 

If the Royals were to acquire Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young winner, he’d join Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and others in Kansas City.

"Our rotation is going to better, but we're still looking for the opportunity to improve on what we've done,'' Royals GM Dayton Moore told Heyman.

The Royals seem interested in trading Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen. Doing so might free up salary for Moore, who now has up to $6MM to spend, according to Heyman.

The Mets have explored the possibility of a contract extension with Dickey, who will earn $5MM in 2013 before hitting free agency. If they trade the knuckleballer, they’d prefer a catcher and outfield help.