There has been some indication that Royals outfielder Alex Gordon might hang up his spikes at the end of the year, but his hot start has him leaning in the other direction. The veteran tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that he’s “at about 60-40” in favor of continuing his career past the 2019 season.
Gordon is all but certain to be a free agent at the end of the year after earning $20MM in the final guaranteed season of his contract. The deal comes with a $23MM mutual option and $4MM buyout. It’s all but unfathomable that the Kansas City organization will pony up the extra $19MM, even with Gordon in the midst of a revival.
There’s an argument to be made that the Royals ought to be preparing to deal away Gordon, even if it means paying down much of the remainder of the deal. The 35-year-old’s renaissance after three poor campaigns at the plate is increasingly believable. He’s swinging at and making contact on pitches in the zone more than ever before, leading to a career-low 12.8% strikeout rate.
Gordon’s power output will likely shrink once his 17.4% HR/FB rate comes back to earth, but it’s now plausible to view him once more as a solid hitter, good defender, and quality clubhouse presence of the sort that many contenders would love to have. He isn’t suddenly a premium market asset. But in the midst of this Nick Markakis act, Gordon would be of clear interest even with some anticipated regression.
Trouble is, Gordon has 10-and-5 rights, meaning he can veto any deal. And it doesn’t sound as if he has the slightest bit of interest in a swap. (Neither is it clear that the Royals would be so inclined, particularly given that they’re actually putting out word that they think they can make a run at a Wild Card.)
“I don’t want to play anywhere else,” says Gordon. “Yeah, I want to retire as a Royal. I’ve established my family here with my kids. This is home.”
That probably settles that so far as a mid-season trade is concerned. But what of the future? That same commitment could well set up an ongoing relationship with the Royals. GM Dayton Moore wouldn’t weigh in on that possibility, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see the sides line up on a deal to keep things going. It’s arguable that the team should save its plate appearances for younger players, but every team needs its veterans and this one has managed to find roster spots for questionably suited fits in Lucas Duda and Terrance Gore.