Alex Gordon will be in a Royals uniform come Opening Night when the Royals begin the season against the New York Mets, and that fact alone is a bit of a surprise to Royals officials, according to Sam Mellinger. The Kansas City Star columnist gives a peek at how negotiations went behind-the-scenes between the Royals an their All-Star left-fielder.
The off-season did not go as planned for Gordon and his agent Casey Close, who expected a deal would be done by the Winter Meetings in early December. Gordon had a strong desire to stay close to his Lincoln, Nebraska home, which made East and West coast teams - such as the Giants, Angels, and Orioles - less attractive. Gordon made sure to give the Royals a last chance to match any offer, but most Royals executives and players thought they had seen Alex Gordon in a Royals uniform for the last time. According to the article, Eric Hosmer had given up on seeing his teammate return.
"Yeah, I thought he was gone. Honestly. I just didn’t think it could happen. I just thought he was too expensive."
According to a source we have spoken to familiar with the negotiations, Gordon had a strong preference to stay with the Royals, and was willing to do a four-year deal from the outset. However he was upset with a perceived low-ball offer from the club, an offer that was reported as four-year deal worth around $50 million by Jim Bowden, a number we have confirmed. This was quite possibly the reason why reports leaked at that time that Gordon would not re-sign unless the situation improved.
Gordon's top fallback option was to stay close in the Midwest with a National League team - either the Cubs or Cardinals. But the Jason Heyward signing in Chicago threw a wrench into those plans. With Gordon waiting on the Royals to improve their offer, the other suitors began falling by the wayside. The Cardinals fell out after the Heyward signing, and the Orioles soon made clear they were out as well. Mellinger says that New York was never an option, and according to our source, the Detroit Tigers were ruled out by Gordon early on as well. Gordon did seriously consider the Angels despite their distance from Nebraska, according to our source. The Angels publicly said they would not spend on big free agents (a statement that turned out to be true), but Mellinger reports that Royals officials were alarmed when C.J. Wilson became available, possibly hinting at a move to free up money to sign a player like Gordon.
According to our source, in the end it was only the Royals and White Sox in the bidding for Alex Gordon's services. Gordon hints at one serious suitor in Mellinger's article, with the implication that the White Sox were that team. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported Chicago was only willing to a make three-year offer, for far less than what Alex Gordon was seeking.
Ownership had initially set payroll targets at lower than $130 million, however Mellinger reports Dan Glass was "motivated" to do the deal. Gordon said at his press conference that he and Dayton Moore had a heart-to-heart talk over Christmas vacation, and according to Mellinger, a deal was struck by New Year's Eve. On January 6, the news broke that Gordon had signed a four-year, $70 million deal to stay with the Royals.
It was a long, angst-filled ride for Royals fans this off-season. There were times where it looked as if Alex Gordon would have to spend this season in a different uniform. However in the end, Alex Gordon remains in Royals blue for the next four years.