The Kansas City Royals made big news heading into the weekend with the announcement that they had finally agreed to an extension that every fan was waiting for. Alex Gordon had signed a four year contract extension with a player option for a fifth additional year. But besides locking up a player, it’s also a major statement for a team used to losing and being called cheap.
The Royals have a farm system with guys who could potentially replace Gordon inexpensively. If Gordon were allowed to leave via free agency, fans would cry foul and sportswriters would say it’s just another case of the Royals growing their own talent and letting them walk in their prime. The fears would grow that the Royals would let the same thing happen to new names and faces like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
But lately, things have begun to change. The Royals locked up Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar long-term to show that they are keeping some of the new guys in house for a while. Fans can relax and buy a jersey. These guys aren’t going anywhere.
But those guys are stronger defensive components than anything else. What about the big sluggers who cost the money that the Royals have not paid out to this point? Gordon’s extension answers that question loud and clear. By locking up Gordon through his prime years (until age 32 or 33 with the player extension), the Royals have an anchor for their line-up through the development of other major sluggers from the farm.
Even more importantly, it makes a major statement that despite the presence of Wil Myers in the farm system and the potential emergence down the line of Bubba Starling, Brett Eibner, Elier Hernandez or Jorge Bonifacio, the Royals are committed to winning at the Major League level. Prospects can now slow down and wait for their turn. No one will be rushed. The Royals are worried about winning and a prospect will have their turn only if they can truly help — not learn to grow to help.
John Verburg of the Motor City Bengals, a Detroit Tigers blog, writes, “I’m still not overly concerned by the Royals this season. The Tigers are going to have to falter something pretty terrible not to win the Central this year, but the Royals commitment to Gordon and others should be a sign to the rest of the division that they are serious about winning."
The Royals are finally placing their flag in the ground and staking these next few years as the one where they will finally focus on winning with what they have in house. They aren’t there yet, but Gordon will be an anchor the team can depend on as they grow and hopefully move up the standings.