Just days after the team’s World Series bid fell 90 feet short, the Kansas City Royals are expected, by many, to make several of their pricier, more-talented players available this offseason, according to reports. One of the names that has been widely mentioned is that of former third baseman-turned-outfielder Alex Gordon.
The 30-year-old left fielder, who was once a highly-touted third base prospect within the organization, is set to become a free agent after the 2015 campaign, which – unless an extension can be hammered out – would lead many to speculate that he could be shopped while he still has value to other teams in the league, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. With several less-than-ideal outfield options heading into next season, it stands to reason the Chicago Cubs could be in on Gordon.
"Perhaps the impact that Gordon had on such a special year for Kansas City will inspire the club to commit to a long-term deal, and he will one day retire a Royal. But if that is not going to happen, it makes sense to gauge his trade value this winter."
Gordon, a career .268/.345/.435 hitter, was named to his second American League All-Star team this season and could very well earn his fourth Gold Glove Award since transitioning to left field. Since 2011, he’s appeared in at least 151 games each season, beginning with a breakout campaign that season, in which he hit .303, slugged .502 and crushed 23 home runs while driving in 87. This year, Gordon hit 19 long-balls and drove in 74, adding 34 doubles, as well.
Chicago heads into 2015 with Jorge Soler as the only sure-lock outfield option. The rookie, who performed much better than the team’s other highly-touted talent, Javier Baez, who also made his debut this season, is expected to be a key contributor for the Cubs moving forward, but whether or not he will maintain the level of performance he showed in 2014 remains to be seen. The young Cuban slugger batted .292/.330/.573 with five home runs and 20 RBIs to go along with eight doubles across 24 games, giving fans a taste of what the future could hold.
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Other than Soler, who will be just 23 next year, Arismendy Alcantara, Justin Ruggiano, Junior Lake and Chris Coghlan all will vie for the other two starting spots. Alcantara offered speed in the Cubs lineup and in center field, where he was learning the outfield on the fly after playing most of his career as an infielder, but his on-base percentage of .254 demonstrates his inability to reach base enough to make much of a difference on the base paths.
Ruggiano, who was average for much of the year before sustaining a season-ending injury, will be considered, but is better-suited as a fourth outfielder on a contending club. Coghlan broke out in a big way for the Cubs, providing stability in the leadoff spot, where he batted .274/.336/.456, but whether or not he starts in 2015 remains to be seen. As for Lake, after a stellar 2013 rookie campaign, he took a big step backwards this season, spending most of the year in Triple-A Iowa.
With all of this in mind, a veteran, above-average outfielder like Gordon could make sense for the Cubs, who certainly have the pieces to make such a trade work. Recently named as having the best farm system in baseball, Chicago has a plethora of young talent that could be flipped to the Royals. That being said, I, personally, do not see a deal getting done for the simple reason that if Kansas City does deal Gordon, he’ll be no more than a one-year rental – a plan that doesn’t fit what Cubs are currently building.
"Gordon holds a player option for 2016, but the educated bet is that we should operate under the assumption he is under team control for just one more season, until something definitive changes. And if the Royals trade Gordon, he would certainly be a one-year rental for the acquiring team."
While adding a quality outfielder should certainly be on the offseason to-do list of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, Gordon doesn’t seem to be a fit at this point in time. It’s a nice thought, but this front office likely won’t flip young, controllable talent for a 30-year-old outfielder who, in all likelihood, would be around for just one season. The simple truth is that Chicago is still a year away from being a top team in the league – and they’re not about to deviate from the course for a player – even one like Gordon.