Yesterday evening, news broke that the Kansas City Royals had signed leftfielder Alex Gordon to a four-year, $37.5-million contract with a player option for the 2016 season worth a reported $12.5-million. The deal represents the third extension doled out by Royals’ GM Dayton Moore since the beginning of Spring Training, along with the five-year extension given to catcher Salvador Perez and the four-year extension handed to shortstop Alcides Escobar.

The deal represents a potential steal for KC who signed Gordon to a now-voided $4.775-million deal in February to avoid arbitration; Gordon was eligible for the second time.

Last year, Gordon had his long-awaited breakout campaign, finishing with a .303/.376/.502 slash line and excellent defensive numbers in leftfield. His 6.9 fWAR ranked him seventh in the American League and he was ranked even higher by Baseball Prospectus’ WARP where his 7.2 mark ranked him fourth in all of baseball behind only Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury.

The rules of regression, as outlined by Matt Klaassen during the week here on Getting Blanked, suggest that Gordon’s numbers will take a step back in 2012, but he should still be a well-above-average player. The deal the Royals inked him to yesterday buys out his final two years of arbitration eligibility and at least his first two years of free agency at a more equitable price than the Colorado Rockies paid this winter for corner outfielder Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer, of course, is several years older and a whole lot less, you know, good at baseball than Gordon, yet he was signed to a three-year, $31.5-million deal back in December.

The deal is not without its risks considering it is possible that Gordon turns back into the player that frustrated scouts, stats geeks and Royals fans for several years, but that scenario seems unlikely. Moore has now locked up a full one-third of his young and impressive starting lineup for the next half-decade or so and with the expected emergence of first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder Wil Myers over the next season or so, the Royals look like they’re finally building things the right way. Now if they could just get some pitching.

The career arch of Gordon should give Blue Jays fans some hope regarding their own floundering former prospect Travis Snider who seems to be taking a similar path. Gordon is the perfect example of why you should never give up too easily on a player with the ceiling and upside of a superstar. Although some elite prospects make the jump from AAA to the Major Leagues look trivial, the fact is, it’s the toughest jump in all of baseball. Sometimes allowing your young players to figure it out at a slower pace ends up working out in spades.

The Gordon deal could also have implications for another underachieving young Blue Jay outfielder. Colby Rasmus, who has almost exactly one less year of service time than Gordon, has a similarly high ceiling. If he has the type of breakout season Gordon enjoyed last year, which is certainly possible even if it is unlikely, his deal will almost certainly be used as a template in negotiations for a Rasmus extension.

And the rest:

Yesterday, in his TSTOAF feature, our mostly-fearless leader Dustin Parkes listed his ten best position players, 25 or younger. People, of course, took exception to Parkes’ list (something that is always a symptom of list-making), but ultimately these things are totally subjective and meant to  be a fun exercise. For the record, here are my Top 12, because why not?

1 Justin Upton
2 Andrew McCutchen
3 Eric Hosmer
4 Giancarlo Stanton
5 Jason Heyward
6 Buster Posey
7 Mike Trout
8 Desmond Jennings
9 Brett Lawrie
10 Pablo Sandoval
11 Starlin Castro
12 Elvis Andrus

I like Hosmer to have a Top 5 MVP finish this season and Heyward and Posey could easily move up this list with bounce-back years. Also, before I get accused of being anti-Canadian, I, like Dustin I suspect, have Lawrie a little lower on this list, not because I don’t think he can one day be better than some of the players ahead of him, but because he has a vastly less impressive track record than almost anyone else on the list. He’s done amazing things, but not for as long as some of the others listed here. For my money, him and Jennings are about equal, but I give the edge to Jennings because of his ability to be an above-average defensive centerfielder once B.J. Upton moves on to greener pastures in 2013.

You know all those worries about Michael Pineda’s velocity? Well, they’ve been replaced with some potentially more serious worries. It looks as though he’ll start the year on the DL with shoulder tendinitis after experiencing pain in his throwing shoulder in yesterday’s game whilst being shelled [Marc Craig, Twitter].

The Colorado Rockies have officially announced that 49-year-old Jamie Moyer will start the year in the rotation. In case you weren’t aware of this, 49 is very old for a professional baseball pitcher [AP/NBC Sports].

The San Diego Padres have announced an extension for righthander Cory Luebke. The deal is for four guaranteed years and $12-million [Tom Krasovic, Inside the Padres/Twitter] with two team option for 2016 and 2017 that could see the deal top out at $27.75-million [Corey Brock, MLB.com/Twitter]. Luebke was the Padres best pitcher in 2011, finishing with an impressive 9.92/2.84/0.77 pitcher slash line in 46 appearances, including 17 starts during his first full big-league year. He is, however, already 27-years-old and has never shown the ability to strike out that many hitters in the minors.

Livan Hernandez was released by the Astros yesterday (pause for laughter…) and then quickly signed by the Atlanta Braves where he’ll act as a swingman [Ken Rosenthal, Twitter].

Sam Miller, now of Baseball Prospectus (!!) takes a look at Bobby Abreu’s recent bout of mykyungitude and why everyone’s job sucks [Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus].

Is Brett Cecil on his way out of the Blue Jays rotation for good? [Ryan Campbell, FanGraphs].

As always, for more updates on all the goings-on in Major League Baseball, follow Getting Blanked on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook. Do the same for our friends at DJF (Twitter/Facebook).

Comments (8)

  1. That’s pretty high praise for Hosmer, considering:

    1) MVP voters don’t like guys who play on non-contending teams
    2) There’s at minimum 4-5 first baseman (Pujols, Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Tex, Konerko) who are likely to put up better numbers compared to when Hosmer is in his prime, let alone as a 22 year old.
    3) Hosmer plays in the same league as Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Longoria, Pedroia. All of whom are among the best players in the AL.

    Hosmer might be a well above average player, but just given the quality of the hitters in the AL it’s unlikely Hosmer will be a top 5 MVP player. And given that in his prime he’ll be competing with Carlos Santana, Mike Trout, Brett Lawrie, and other current Major League vets like Pedroia, Pujols etc., I find it difficult to believe he’ll ever be a top 5 MVP candidate. I like the kid, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like he set the world on fire last year. And he has plenty to work on in terms of plate discipline/recognition before he’ll be a top hitter.

    And while I’ll admit that Trout is a fantastic prospect, I don’t see how you can put him above Lawrie, but then argue that Lawrie is so low because he doesn’t have as much MLB experience as guys like BJ Upton. It’s a contradiction to say Lawrie is so low because of a lack of MLB experience, and then put Trout so high even though he struggled in the majors and is starting the year in the minors.

    Either everybody is judged based on their MLB production, or you judge everybody by a combination of their upside/major league experience. But you can’t judge some by upside, and some by major league experience. Cause then Sandoval should be higher than Hosmer, who has no business being in the top 10 with his sub 800 OPS, 1.6 WAR season.

    • Sorry I don’t know why I said BJ Upton there but you know what I mean about Lawrie and the experience factor.

    • I think the Royals will be good enough (around .500) that he’ll get some down-ballot votes and I think he is going to have a huge, huge year. Just a hunch really.

      As for the Trout-Lawrie thing, I don’t see how you could have Lawrie above Trout. Trout has been one of the most highly-touted prospects in the last decade for a couple years now. He’s still younger than Lawrie by 2 years (!!) and yes he struggled a bit at the Majors, but small sample size/19-year-old playing in the Majors. I don’t think there’s a single front office exec that would take Lawrie over Trout at this point.

      And he’s being optioned to the minors because the Angels have backed themselves into a corner with their roster construction and backloaded contracts. Wells is being paid too much to bench and so is Torii. Then they have Bourjos, Trumbo and Abreu (for now) who can also play the outfield. Trout is simply the lowest on the financial totem pole and is young enough to justify a demotion. It has nothing to do with talent. The ceiling far outweighs everything else for me. Technically, however, the list is supposed to be “non-rookie eligible” players and Trout is eligible, so maybe he shouldn’t be on the list at all.

      • I didn’t say Lawrie should be above Trout. I said your justification for having Lawrie so low is flawed. You said “but because he has a vastly less impressive track record than almost anyone else on the list” as your reason for why Lawrie was so low. So you said despite Lawrie’s upside, he can’t rank higher because of his lack of accomplishments or track record to this point.

        So it seems like you’re just picking or choosing between upside or MLB track record whenever it’s convenient for you. Eric Hosmer has proven less than Stanton, Posey or Sandoval for instance, yet you’ve ranked him third. That’s more what I’m getting at. I just used Lawrie as one example. And Sandoval/Hosmer as another.

        The point was more about being consistent with your arguments. If you say Lawrie’s track record is holding him back, then so should Hosmer’s or Trout’s. Which would mean guys like Sandoval would have more value. But if you’re going with upside, then Lawrie/Trout should be closer to the top.

        Either way having Hosmer third is just all kinds of crazy.

        • Point taken, but I’m not JUST talking about Major League track record. Before last season, Lawrie never showed the kind of ceiling or promise he now has. He went off. I’m not saying it isn’t sustainable, I’m just saying we don’t know as much about him as we do about someone like Trout who has been doing it since the day he was drafted.

          • ah player values fluctuate…where was Pujols drafted? 13th rd? Even when Trout was drafted i think it was later 1st rd. in fact im pretty sure Lawrie was drafted in a higher slot than Trout was so that speaks volumes about what pro scouts thought about each players ceiling.

            Many a “can’t miss prospect” has flopped. Many of these types of guys have never put up a 50 game sample Lawrie did last year.

            Lawrie “never showed that type of celing”…until he showed that type of ceiling! fact is he’s shown it. in spades.

            What Brett Lawrie has done is very real and im sure there is a slew of MLB GM’s who would take Lawrie over Trout right here and now. definetly not as slam dunk as you seem to think.

          • just to be sure im fully off the fence here i would say more GM’s would take Lawrie over Trout as of today.

            maybe not 10 months ago…but like i said values fluctuate.

  2. That photo of Alex Gordon needs a beard.

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