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Should the Royals bring back Alex Gordon?

Does a 36-year old left fielder fit in a rebuild?

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Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Alex Gordon has enjoyed a wonderful 13-year career, but when we saw him last September, we weren’t certain whether that would be the last time we saw him in Royal blue. The seven-time Gold Glove winner has said that the Royals are the only team he would consider playing for in 2020, and he would take the off-season to consider whether or not he wanted to return.

But it sounds like the three-time All-Star will once again be patrolling left field in Kauffman Stadium this summer. Dayton Moore has said “the feeling is mutual” on a reunion and Kansas City Star reporter Lynn Worthy wrote “signs continue to point” to Gordon playing for the Royals in 2020. According to reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, the Royals are hoping to work out a deal with Gordon by Fanfest on January 24. MLB Network reporter Jon Heyman reported a deal could come as soon as this week.

While this is great news for all the fans of Alex Gordon, one of the truly terrific players in franchise history and possibly the greatest Royals player of the last decade, it does raise the question - should the Royals be bringing Alex Gordon back?

Why the Royals should bring back Alex Gordon

The Royals should bring back Alex Gordon because, well, he’s earned it. He’s been one of the best players in franchise history, a crucial member of two pennant-winning teams and a championship club, and he has been part of some of the most iconic moments in franchise history, including his home run to tie Game 1 of the World Series in 2015.

Gordo has still been an outstanding defender, earning another Gold Glove last year, and his defense will come in handy as the Royals try to develop some young pitchers. His bat, which has largely been subpar since signing his big contract in 2016, bounced back to acceptable last year, and his .345 on-base percentage was fourth-best on the team.

The Royals are pretty shallow in outfield talent, so Gordon is not really blocking any stud prospect coming up through the system. Players like Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling profile more like fourth outfielders with great gloves and little offense. Minor leaguer Nick Heath also profiles as a fourth outfielder. Khalil Lee is the closest thing to an outfield prospect the Royals have in the upper minors, and while he has potential, he didn’t quite set the Texas League on fire last year. Another year of seasoning could benefit him, particularly if he can find some power in the Pacific Coast League.

Additionally, Gordo provides an excellent role model for some of the young players coming up. The franchise has used him as an example for the kind of work ethic they would like to see.

Flash forward nearly a decade later. Bubba Starling, a first-round pick in 2011, had the same thought that once struck Duffy. At 6:45 a.m., he recalled, he strolled into the clubhouse. Gordon strolled past him.

“I’m like, ‘What the hell?’” Starling said. “This guy has already got a full lift in, looking jacked. He’s top-notch in everything he does.”

The Royals will need a few veterans to mentor younger players, much like Jeff Francoeur did when young players were coming up in the early part of last decade. And if nothing else, having Gordon around will give fans a bright spot in what is likely to be another losing season. Let us send Alex Gordon off right, with the celebration he deserves.

Why the Royals should not bring back Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon will be 36 years old in February, certainly not the typical age of a player on a rebuilding club. The Royals need to use this time to look at all the young talent they can, to determine whether they can be part of the future. The prospect shine may have worn off on Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling, but they are still both outstanding defenders that can help a team. If either develops even a slightly-below average bat, they could be a tremendous asset, particularly in spacious Kauffman Stadium. Baseball it littered with late bloomers, including a few of KC’s best players - Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier, and Jorge Soler. Every at-bat that goes to Gordo is taken away from evaluating one of these players.

Veteran presence also tends to get vastly overrated, an excuse to bring in an old vet into camp. Alex has never been a “rah-rah”-type leader the way Frenchy or Raul Ibanez was. And any mentorship he brings could be done as a “special assistant to the general manager” that helps out in spring training and throughout the year.

As far as the fans, they want to see the future of this club. Gordon is a nice remembrance of the past, but it is time to move on, time to get working towards the next Royals contender. Alex has always shied from having the spotlight on him, so a coronation of his career would likely be uncomfortable anyway. It would be best for him to end on a high note, having put together a pretty solid season in 2019.

In the end, it is up to Alex Gordon. I do think he has earned the right to return in a way, although with the understanding that there is a need to evaluate younger players, which may mean a less regular starting role for Gordon in 2020. With Merrifield and Dozier able to play the infield, there still could be enough outfield at-bats to get a long look at all of the young players. And hey, we may need Gordo to pitch now and then.

What do you think? Should the Royals bring back Alex Gordon this year?


Should the Royals bring back Alex Gordon in 2020?

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