On Tuesday night Alex Gordon became the first Royal in five years to win a Gold Glove. Gordon's Gold Glove was a welcome surprise to Royals fans, although, because we are small market fans, there was an immediate worry that the award will also make Gordon more expensive. Gordon is set to become a free agent after the 2013 season, and for the next two years he is arbitration eligible.
I do think, broadly, this is the case. Gordon earned $1.4 million last season and he is going to get a raise in 2012. However, we shouldn't overstate the financial impact of this development. In fact, it might actually help the Royals sign Gordon to a long-term deal. Depending on the terms, this is something fans should want.
First of all, Gordon's Gold Glove did not happen in a vacuum. The main driver of his value, on the semi-market that per-arbitration players are evaluated on, is heavily slanted to offensive performance. Gordon's 23 home runs, 87 RBIs, and .303 batting average were already going to cost the Royals money. And because of the dynamic in place, there is basically a ceiling for how much of a raise he can receive anyway. The impact would have been much larger, if, an all-defense player like Alcides Escobar had won this award.
Secondly, the Gold Glove is just the final step in chain of defensive accomplishment. Gordon already led the Majors in outfield assists. That was already something he could bring to the bargaining table. And, heading into today, he had already been named as a GG Finalist. It's a folly to try to pin down specific numbers here, but if we imagine that Gordon's defense was going to get him an extra $100,000, the GG is just the final $25,000 of that, or something in that range. Again, if a player with no real defensive reputation one way or the other had suddenly been named a GG, the impact would be much larger. But that didn't happen Tuesday.
Of course, the prospect of paying Alex Gordon more money in 2012-13 might make the Royals more amenable (this is only circumstance in which I ever use "amenable", after the word more, I wish it wasn't this way, I wish I was a better writer) to signing Gordon to a long-term contract. A presumptive increase in their costs over the next two seasons means they have less to lose by paying him more (yay! I dropped a truism on ya!).
No post would be complete without a turn to Jeff Francoeur however. If Francoeur is truly part of the long-term future as well (he's under contract through 2013) then the Royals only have one other COF spot to work with. Perhaps the Best Farm System Ever has a better option looming. Maybe Melky+Cain is what they want. I don't know. I think the Royals should want Gordon around for the next five or so years, but perhaps they have other ideas. Or maybe Alex does.
But about the Gold Glove? Don't sweat it.