Start of the outfield run
It has been almost a full month since Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs and everyone believed that the other outfield free agents would soon follow. The stalemate finally ended this morning with the World Champion Royals making the move. With Gordon reportedly requesting $20MM a year, and predicted to be the lowest AAV of the triumvirate of Gordon, Cespedes and Upton, him accepting $18MM makes the market for the remaining two a little murky. In a supply-and-demand analysis, there are now less fish in the sea, so it is possible these two just had their value go up. In a comparative analysis, Gordon didn’t do the other two any favors by accepting less than his proposed market value. With the former analysis, it’s expected that the other two will be more than likely to sign sooner than later.
Kansas City more attractive now than ever
With Gordon’s reported $72MM deal, he becomes the largest contract ever in Kansas City Royals history. Winning a championship certainly brings in more revenue, and it’s looking like the Royals organization is willing to reinvest their profits and come back for more. The Royals lost their other two big free agents (Zobrist and Cueto) but Gordon would have been the biggest loss due to position need. As discussed above, Gordon may have given KC a bit of a “hometown discount” but as a 32 year old veteran, he may value other things than money. Regardless, the Royals are showing that they will not be a flash in the pan and back-to-back World Series appearances may only be the beginning of a run.
What’s next for the Royals and the rest of the AL Central?
With Alex Gordon returning to his left field corner and MVP candidate Lorenzo Cain cemented in center, right field is the only unknown in the outfield. Alex Rios will probably not be back, so a platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando could be expected, but a platoon is a lot more attractive than playing both of them. The Royals don’t necessarily need to do anything else this offseason as they will go back to playing Omar Infante at second, like they did before the Zobrist acquisition last year and the rest of the infield will remain the same. The starting rotation will go back to how it was before the Cueto acquisition, as well, with newcomer Dillon Gee fighting to become a part of it. Even with the bullpen losing Greg Holland, they hope to replace his production with Joakim Soria. The team will look rather similar to the first half team from 2015, which was still extremely competitive. If it remains competitive up until the trade deadline, the front office has shown they are willing to be creative to fill in any holes the team may find.
The AL Central looked to be one of the more wide open divisions headed into 2016 but this does push the Royals to be more of a favorite. Many expected the Royals to lose all of their star free agents, so this changes the script a bit. With the Tigers and White Sox being front runners for Yoenis Cespedes, more pressure is now put on those two to match the Royals move.