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Royals low-balling Alex Gordon?

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ESPN's Jim Bowden seems to think so.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

With Jason Heyward signed in Chicago, many expect the market for free agent outfielders to pick up. Players like Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, and Alex Gordon can begin to fall in line now that Heyward has set the market rate. In his column for ESPN, former General Manager Jim Bowden runs down the list of free agent outfielders, and reports how negotiations have gone with Alex Gordon.

Gordon would like to return to the Royals, but they're lowballing him with a four-year offer in the $12-$13 million per year range. The market is sure to take him to five years with an A.A.V. much closer to $18 million, and now that Heyward has landed, the market is picking up for Gordon.

Royals beat writer Andy McCullough is not surprised by the report.

Alex Gordon earned $14 million in 2015 and turned down a $12.5 million player option for 2016 and a $15.8 million Qualifying Offer.

These reports make sense in the context of the Royals saying Gordon may be left out in a game of "musical chairs", and rumors of the Royals looking at virtually every other left-fielder available.

The Royals may be playing hardball negotiations hoping his price will fall dramatically as it did with Ervin Santana and James Shields. But they are taking a risky gamble that may not pay off. Gordon's loyalty only goes so far, and the Royals may find themselves left out with few good left-field options remaining.