Royals icon Alex Gordon was at least pondering retirement within the past year, but the 36-year-old now tells Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star that he’d like to play “at least a few more years.” Like many other veterans who’ve had additional time to reflect thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown, Gordon wants to go out on his own terms rather than letting the health crisis dictate when he hangs it up. “I’ll tell you I definitely don’t want to end like this,” says Gordon.
Gordon also notes that he sees similarities between the current Royals and the group that blossomed into Kansas City’s World Series clubs from 2014-15. The seven-time Gold Glover spoke fondly of how “special” it is to be a part of a group that grows together through a rebuild and comes out the other side as a postseason contender. Gordon “definitely” wants to see at least one more postseason run in his career, he adds.
There’s no talk of playing anywhere else in Gordon’s interview with Worthy, which K.C. fans in particular will want to read in full. Gordon said almost one year ago to the day that he plans to finish his career in Kansas City and retire as a Royal. “I’ve established my family here with my kids,” he said at the time. “This is home.”
If Gordon’s postseason aspirations are to come true, he’ll likely need another couple of years at least. The Royals have an increasing number of intriguing bats in the lineup, with Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier, Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler all blossoming in recent years. (Soler will be a free agent after 2021, though the club hopes to extend the slugger.) The pitching side of things is a bit further behind, but the Royals have several quality young arms bubbling up toward MLB readiness. Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar and Kris Bubic all could’ve conceivably debuted in the big leagues this year, although that timeline is a bit less certain given the circumstances. All four appeared on various top-100 prospect lists prior to the 2020 season.
Gordon himself remains a reasonably productive player, having batted .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs, 31 doubles and a triple in 2020 to go along with above-average glovework. Defensive metrics weren’t as bullish on him in 2019 as they were in an excellent defensive 2018 campaign, but Gordon has never rated below average in either Defensive Runs Saved or Ultimate Zone Rating since moving from third base to left field a decade ago. And while those offensive numbers are just shy of league average, Gordon was mostly solid in ’19 outside of a disastrous month of August (.167/.238/.219). Setting aside that brutal month, he kept his OPS above the .800 mark. We of course can’t simply ignore that woeful August showing, but it’s only fair to point out that he was a largely solid at the plate otherwise.
Gordon is on a one-year, $4MM deal with the Royals, so this winter, he’ll need to once again negotiate a new contract with the only club he’s ever known. But general manager Dayton Moore has made perfectly clear how important Gordon is to the team and clubhouse, and his teammates have offered similar sentiments. Merrifield, for instance, gushed to Worthy about how vital Gordon has been in his own career and what his leadership means to the Kansas City roster.