At the end of spring training in 2012, Alex Gordon signed a four-year contract extension through the 2015 season that included a player option for 2016. With his All-Star selection in 2013 and 2014, that option is now worth $14 million. Last summer, as the Royals were riding high on their hot streak, Gordon indicated he would pick up that option in an effort to stay in Kansas City.
For his part, Gordon indicated he plans on picking up his 2016 option and delaying his free-agency. A message left for Gordon’s agent, Casey Close, went unreturned, so Gordon was asked if Close would approve this maneuver. "Casey’s not the boss of me," Gordon said with a grin. "I’m sure he’ll have things to say and whatnot. But when it comes down to it, it’s my decision."
Well Mr. Close has apparently intervened. Alex declined to re-commit on picking up that option in 2016, after being asked about it in spring training.
On Saturday morning, he hedged on that initial position. "That’s a question that honestly doesn’t need to be answered right now," Gordon said. "Because I don’t know the answer right now. I don’t know how this year is going to go, or how it’s going to look at the end of the year. Honestly, I don’t know."
Alex indicated he is open to negotiations on a long-term extension, but has not had any with General Manager Dayton Moore.
"I don’t know if there’s a ‘situation,’" Moore said. "Alex is a huge part of our team and our organization. Discussions like that remain confidential. There’s not a whole lot to say about it."
If Alex declines the player option, he would become a free agent after this season (the Royals would be able to make a Qualifying Offer, entitling them to draft pick compensation should he leave). Alex would enter a free agent class that already has outfielders Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. MLB Trade Rumors ranked Alex the seventh-best free agent in next year's class. Alex will be 32 in the first year of his new contract in 2016, and it remains to be seen how he recovers from his wrist injury. He has been one of the more valuable outfielders in the game the last few seasons, but much of that value rests on his defense, and it is still unclear how much teams are willing to pay for value based on defensive metrics.
McCullough cites executives who thinks Gordon could command a five-year $90 million deal. Matthew LaMar wrote last year that Gordon could get as much as $100 million on the open market. That would be much higher than the $55 million Gil Meche deal for biggest contract in franchise history. The Royals also have some tight finances the next few years, with roughly $110 million on the roster for 2016 without Gordon, assuming Jeremy Guthrie and Alex Rios have their options declined. Adding a potential $18 million per year on top of that would be a real test to owner David Glass' recent generosity with player payroll.
Its hard to reach too much into these comments. There could be negotiations neither side is willing to admit to. Or perhaps Alex is trying to kickstart negotiations or move the Royals off their position. In any case, it should not be a given that Alex picks up his 2016 option and there is the possibility that we could be seeing the last of Alex Gordon in a Royals uniform.