Once the World Series ends and the dust settles, Alex Gordon is expected to decline his $14 million option for the 2016 season and become a free agent. Gordon will have his choice of teams to sign with this winter even with turning 32 in February. Gordon is an elite defender in a game that has put a focus back on defense, and he’s also pretty good at the plate.
Joel Sherman reported Wednesday that the Cubs, Astros and Red Sox are three of the teams that will be in the mix for Gordon. And there will be more. Gordon has said publicly that he would like to stay in Kansas City and the Royals want him back. It’s unclear at this point if the Royals will have the payroll flexibility to re-sign one of their team leaders.
In a report in which he speculated the paydays for five key World Series free agents, Joel Sherman posted an estimate for Alex Gordon. Sherman thinks “open bidding could get him to five years and north of $75 million.” At five years and $75 million, that would make Alex Gordon a $15 million per year player through his age-36 season. Plus he will cost a team its’ first available draft pick. The Royals will make Gordon a qualifying offer.
Sherman used the contracts of Nick Markakis (four years, $40 million), Nick Swisher (four years, $56 million) and Curtis Granderson (four years, $60 million) as examples as why Gordon could sign for five years and what could be more than $75 million.
Markakis was 30 years old when he signed with the Braves last winter and played the first of four years at 31. Swisher’s first season in Cleveland came as a 32-year old and Granderson was 32 years old when he signed with the Mets.
There were a few outlets that made quick comps to Chris Coghlan based on Gordon’s offensive numbers after Sherman’s report surfaced. The numbers are not the same. Alex Gordon hits lefties and Coghlan has not.
If Joe Maddon let Coghlan hit against southpaws, he has a career .232/.311/.318 line against lefties with a .629 OPS. Coghlan was 5-for-43 (.116/.208/.140) versus left handers this season. Gordon hit slightly better against left-handed pitching (.280/.377/.440/.817) than right handers (.266/.377/.428/.805) this year and has batted .255/.330/.420 with a .750 OPS versus lefties in his career.
With all of the talent and rather big names hitting free agency this off-season, it could end up being a buyer’s market as Buster Olney recently explained. Free agents may not end up signing for what their agents are projecting. The Cubs are expected to make pitching the priority, both free agents and in trades, and are believed to have David Price and Jordan Zimmermann at the top of their list.
The front office is looking to shape the roster this winter, focus on areas of need and build depth. Alex Gordon is the type of player the Cubs value but his age and price tag might not fit the long-term plan.