2015 Statistics: .271/.377/.432, 104 G, 13 HR, 49 BB, 92 K, 122 wRC+, 422 PA
2016 Age: 32
Alex Gordon wasn't always the gold glove winning left fielder baseball fans have come to know him as today. Drafted as the second overall pick in 2005 by the Kansas City Royals, Gordon was originally a third base prospect for the Royals before eventually making the shift to the outfield in 2011. Marred by injuries and ineffectiveness, the start to Gordon's career was nothing to be excited about. After a breakout season in 2011, Gordon has become one of the league's premiere left fielders, winning four consecutive Gold Glove awards from 2011-2014 and being nominated for a fifth one in 2015.
In 2007 Gordon made his major league debut, striking out against Curt Schilling with the bases loaded. Between that first major league at-bat and 2010, Gordon didn't do much of anything to convince the Royals they made the right decision in drafting him. His very underwhelming first full season in 2007 was evidenced by a .247/.314/.411 slash line in 151 games. After that year, Gordon landed on the disabled list each of the next three years, playing in a not too terrible 134 games in 2008, but a disappointing 49 and 74 games in 2009 and 2010, respectively. When he wasn't injured Gordon wasn't doing much with his opportunities to play in the majors. After being activated off the disabled list in April 2010, he was demoted to the Royals' AAA affiliate in May where he started playing left field. He was eventually recalled after then Royals' outfielder David DeJesus went on the disabled list, at which point Gordon started showing flashes of potential but never really living up to his promise. The window for Gordon to show if he was truly a baseball player or a bust was closing. Then Gordon made a very bold declaration.
"Not that this year is over, but I'm going to dominate next year. I've shown flashes, but something that's bothered me is I haven't been consistent. I show flashes, and then I go into a little bit of a slump that kind of erases what I did. I just need to figure out how to be consistent and put it all together throughout the year. I feel comfortable in left field. I was struggling at third [base], and it was taking too much out of me. My numbers aren't where I want them to be. I'm not producing like I want to produce. But I'm feeling good out there, and I think it's going to come around."
Called it! In 2011, Gordon finally had the breakout year that the Royals had been waiting for him to have. Hitting .303/.376/.502 with 23 home runs and 87 RBIs, Gordon became the contributor the Royals needed. The permanent change in position also worked out very well for Gordon as he earned the first of his four consecutive Gold Gloves in 2011. Gordon's career turnaround was almost directly lined-up with the Royals turning around their franchise as the Royals' record improved as Gordon improved. As mentioned in the above article, Royals' GM Dayton Moore had confidence in Gordon and knew he'd be a cornerstone for the franchise and hopefully play a key role in the team's future success.
"I'll say this: You can win a championship with Alex Gordon on your club. We're counting on him to be that type of guy when we're ready to win."
In 2013, the Royals finished with a record above .500 for the first time in a decade, and then in 2014, they made the playoffs (and fell just short of a World Series title) for the first time since their World Series winning 1985 campaign. In 2015, however, Gordon and the Royals realized the dream and came out as World Series champions, and it's almost fitting that his contract with the team finished after the team achieved its ultimate goal. It remains to be seen where Gordon will eventually suit up in 2016. After making a name for himself as an excellent defender with a solid and consistent bat, Gordon certainly will not come cheap. The Royals themselves expect to be serious bidders for his services, and hope to keep him in their uniform for his entire career, but they're almost certainly not going to be willing to pay the money Gordon would surely demand.
It seems very unlikely that Gordon will be suiting up for the Yankees in 2016 though, as the same obstacle that stands between the team going after some of the more sought-after outfielders, like Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes, also stands between Gordon and the Yankees. With Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Aaron Hicks seemingly occupying outfield spots, there's really no room for Gordon on the roster. However, if the Yankees were to trade Gardner (or even Ellsbury), then there would at least be room for him on the roster. However, if the Yankees were to make such a move, it's much more likely they'd pursue one of the Heyward/Upton/Cespedes trio. In that situation, though, if the team wanted to go a slightly cheaper route, they could look into signing Gordon.
The biggest deterrent for signing Gordon though, would be his age as he'd be 32 for the entirety of the 2016 season. It wouldn't be the most surprising thing if age starts to catch up with Gordon and his skills start deteriorating in the next couple seasons. However, this could also work in the favor of the team who signs him, as they wouldn't have to make as long a commitment to Gordon as they would with the "Big 3" outfielders. Gordon probably ends up with a five to six year deal earning just about $20 million/year. One other thing to remember about Gordon is that signing him comes with the sacrifice of a draft pick as he rejected the qualifying offer the Royals made him earlier in the month.
If the Yankees do end up making space for an outfielder and fail to sign Heyward, Upton, or Cespedes, they probably should at least entertain the idea of signing Gordon. An excellent defender who can also hit for power or take a walk and run the bases pretty well and intelligently, Gordon would not be the worst consolation prize. He has been consistent enough in the last five years to justify even giving up a draft pick for him.