Late last week the Royals and Alex Gordon agreed to a one-year $4.775 million dollar contract, essentially splitting the difference between what both sides had wanted this winter. Although discussions of a long-term contract with Gordon came to a head this month, there is not immediate urgency here: Gordon is still under team control through the 2013 season.
Gordon's at an interesting point in his career. He's not quite the second coming of Jose Bautista, but he fact remains he hit .244/.328/.405 in his first 1641 PAs, then hit .303/.376/.502 in 688 last season. He has the pedigree and a number of plausible explanations for his previous struggles, but you have to look at all the data.
I'm a Gordon believer and a Gordon defender, and it's a rare opportunity for me to feel right about something. Nevertheless, no matte what you think the ultimate cause was, Gordon has had an up-and-down career, with some definite downs. Heading into his age 28 season, Gordon could take another step forward and develop into a real offensive force. He might also see his batting average drop down closer to his career levels, which might offset continued gains in other areas.
Just under $5 million is still a very good price for Gordon. Jeff Francoeur, mind you, is getting paid $6 million for 2012 and $7.5 M for 2013. If Gordon reproduces his 2011 in 2012, the Royals will have one of those good problems teams face, with a valuable player heading towards a nice 3-arb payday. Having good players is a good thing. Of course, they also risk Gordon deciding he'll want to hit the free agent market.
On the other hand, the Royals hold some flexibility at the moment, which is apparently what they value more. If Gordon struggles again, they might be able to secure him for a lower price.