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Alex Gordon reportedly still an option for the Royals

Zobrist might be out, according to Joel Sherman, but the Royals still have hope that their star left fielder may return while they wait to see what the market will bear.

Maybe hope shouldn't be abandoned quite yet.
Maybe hope shouldn't be abandoned quite yet.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Lost amidst the much more active talks swirling about the Royals discussions with Chris Young and Scott Kazmir is that they are still hopeful that Alex Gordon could be a Royal in 2016 and beyond. As Joel Sherman tweeted,

and later fleshed out here, the team's hopes of signing Ben Zobrist may have all but evaporated as demand and flexibility have made him one of the most sought after free agents on the market, but the longest-tenured Royal has not yet been ruled out as a possibility for re-signing.

There is some reason to believe that a slight hometown discount could work in the Royals' favor in negotiations with Gordon, as the born-and-bred Royals' fan could understandably place proximity to family and the comfort of familiarity as a priority, but any deal struck between the two parties would exceed any other deal handed out by the Royals by tens of millions of dollars. Up to this point, the Royals have regularly played it safe on the open market, with the largest contracts in franchise history being handed out to Gil Meche ($55M over five years signed at the winter meetings heading into the 2007 season) and Mike Sweeney ($55M over five years signed in March of 2002).

Of course when David Glass agreed to shell out $11M a year in 2002 and again in 2007, the Royals' revenues were considerably lower. The club's expected $130M payroll next season is likely to be roughly twice that of the $66M payroll they carried in 2007, and their $113M payroll last season was more than twice their $53M payroll the year before the Meche signing.

Granted, the team was considerably younger then, by default guaranteeing less money spent on payroll, but they were also indescribably worse. Baseball is flush with money, and the Royals drew more fans in 2015 than they did in 2002 and 2006 combined. And that fails to take into account the additional windfall associated with going to the World Series for the second straight year.

Speculation places an Alex Gordon contract somewhere in the $90-$110M range spread out over five years. If he were to sign a deal netting him $20M in average annual value, that would account for roughly 15% of the Royals estimated payroll in 2016. For a sense of scope, when Meche's salary kicked up to $11.4M in the second year of his deal, it accounted for the same percentage of the Royals' $74M payroll.

In the annual escalation of tenable club payrolls, $20M is the new $11M in Kansas City. That is probably the figure that Dayton Moore can realistically be expected to hit for Gordon's services should the market not get insane when the upper echelon of outfielders start signing deals.