All-star outfielder Alex Gordon has signed a four-year, $72-million US deal to remain with the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted him more than a decade ago.
Gordon will make $12 million this season, $16 million next and $20 million each of the following two years. The deal includes a $23 million mutual option for 2020 with a $4 million buyout. If he is traded, the option would be voided and the $4 million would become an assignment bonus.
The deal is the richest in franchise history, trumping $55 million agreements given to longtime first baseman Mike Sweeney and starting pitcher Gil Meche.
The second overall pick of the Royals in 2005, Gordon went through years of growing pains before finally becoming a star. He's not only developed into one of the best defensive outfielders in the game with four Gold Gloves to his resume, but also a consistent hitter and clubhouse leader.
He was a big reason why the Royals won their first World Series since 1985 last season.
Gordon declined an option for $13.75 million to test free agency, but several outfielders on the market, including Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton, may have depressed the 31-year-old's value. Then there is Gordon's recent injury history.
Gordon was to meet with reporters at Kauffman Stadium later Wednesday.
"We don't want to get caught up in, 'A player has earned this or earned that.' It doesn't matter if you've been here four days or 40 years, you have to produce each and every day," general manager Dayton Moore said shortly after the World Series, when asked about signing Gordon long-term. "You're going to be compensated for what you're going to do, not what you've done."
Injury plagued season
Gordon dealt with a wrist injury early last season, then sustained a serious groin injury that sidelined him much for the summer. He wound up playing in just 104 games, hitting .271 with 13 homers and 48 runs batted in, though he did get voted to his third consecutive all-star game.
Gordon returned in time for the playoffs, where he hit just .241 while playing all 16 games. But it was his home run in Game 1 of the World Series off Mets closer Jeurys Familia that sent the game to extra innings, and allowed the Royals to win in 14 innings and take a 1-0 series lead.
The Royals went on to beat the Mets in five games, winning their first World Series since 1985. And during the ensuing parade, hundreds of thousands of fans feted Gordon as the caravan wound through downtown Kansas City, confirming his status as one of the franchise's most popular players.
Notoriously frugal for most of a decade, the Royals have opened their chequebook in recent years.
Along with bringing back Gordon, the team has re-signed pitcher Chris Young to an $11.5 million, two-year deal to solidify their rotation and brought back former closer Joakim Soria on a three-year, $25 million deal. They also exercised an $8 million option on all-star closer Wade Davis and a $5.25 million option on all-star shortstop Alcides Escobar.
With a number of players likely to get significant raises in arbitration, including all-star outfielder Lorenzo Cain, third baseman Mike Moustakas, left hander Danny Duffy and outfielder Jarrod Dyson, the Royals could have another record payroll this season.
"Are we going to win the negotiations for the top guys? We'll try," Moore said. "But we're not going to put ourselves in a position where we operate in a way that's reckless, and puts us perhaps in a position where we can't sign those young players to long-term contracts."
Long-term contracts like the one Gordon just received.