Royals sign Gordon to four-year contract
Deal guarantees OF $37.5 million and could be worth $50 million
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Long anticipated and long discussed, long-term bonding between Alex Gordon and the Royals became reality on Friday afternoon when the left fielder agreed to a contract potentially worth $50 million over five years.
The Royals announced the agreement at a hastily-called news conference just three days before the club breaks camp. Gordon's goal was to seal a deal, if it was to be made, by the end of Spring Training.
His wish was kept with a package that will pay him a guaranteed $37.5 million for the first four years -- $6 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014 and $12.5 million in 2015. In addition, Gordon holds a player option for 2016 at $12.5 million. The contract also contains some fairly standard performance bonuses.
"It's a very special day, I couldn't be more excited," Gordon said after general manager Dayton Moore made the announcement. "He said four years with a player option, I look at it as five years.
"This is where I want to be, surrounded by great people. It starts with the Glass family and ever since Dayton came into this organization, you kind of saw something change and he turned this organization around and it's really the right step to where the players want to be."
This was the third long-term agreement reached in camp. Catcher Salvador Perez signed a contract that guarantees him $7 million over five years with three club options that could increase the total to $26.75 million. Perez has since suffered a knee injury, undergone surgery and is expected to miss about half the season.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar signed a deal that guarantees him $10.5 million over four years plus two club options that could boost the total worth to $21.7 million.
Those signings and other recent long-term deals helped influence Gordon's decision, he said.
"Yeah, you could see it last year with our team and how everybody came together and jelled together, you could see some of these things were going to happen with all these great young players," Gordon said. "I kind of feel like one of the old guys around the clubhouse, so it's good to be a part of all these young guys coming up."
Gordon, who turned 28 on Feb. 10, demonstrated his value to the Royals with a breakthrough 2011 season. He hit .303 with 23 homers, 45 doubles and 87 RBIs and played so superbly in left field that he won an American League Gold Glove.
The contract discussions with Gordon's agent, Casey Close, began during the offseason.
"We started talking a while ago but our goal was to get it done before the season started. That's what happened," Gordon said. "I'm sure both sides wanted to get it done earlier, but it's done and I think both sides are excited about it. I know I am."
The deal overrides the $4.775 million deal Gordon and the club originally reached for 2012 to avoid salary arbitration.
"My heart was telling me that Alex wanted to be here and I knew how dedicated that we were to keep him here," Moore said. "So when you have two sides committed to making something work, usually you can come to some kind of agreement. Alex is a terrific player and he made a commitment here and decided to sign before he became a free agent and I know he's happy with the deal. But once a player becomes a free agent, you get multiple clubs bidding for them and the way we have to manage our payroll in this market, this is huge for us."
Had he not signed, Gordon could have become a free agent after the 2013 season.
"I've never met a baseball player that's as focused and prepared every day as Alex is," manager Ned Yost said. "It just helps you sleep easier, knowing that Alex is going to be here. That the rest of these guys are going to be here because it's a very special group of guys. ... It's perfect for me. They make me feel comfortable, make me feel like I'm at home. I don't ever have to get on 'em about playing the game hard or playing the game right -- and Alex is at the core of that. He's played with every ounce of talent and passion that he has every single day."
Gordon, who fought through disappointing seasons, hip surgery and injuries, made the switch from third base to left field during the 2010 season without complaint.
"He's a great example," Moore said. "He's the type of player that you want all of your young players to emulate."
Gordon was the Royals' first-round Draft choice, and the second pick overall, out of the University of Nebraska in 2005. He arrived in Kansas City in 2007 with high anticipation that he might become the next George Brett. That didn't happen.
"This is a special, special individual who broke into the Major Leagues the way he did with all the expectations and all of the hype and where our organization was," Moore said, " and then to go and switch positions for the good of the team ... and to work the way he worked and get back to the Major Leagues. ... The way Alex prepares and focuses as a baseball player is an example of greatness in our minds."
The Royals also have designated hitter Billy Butler under contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015. The club has options on injured closer Joakim Soria through 2014. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur and pitcher Bruce Chen are in the first year of two-year deals.
First baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas would be likely targets for long-term deals as well.
"We want to keep as many of our young players here as long as we can," Moore said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.