The Kansas City Royals have been building with one of the best farm systems in the game the past couple of years. While, it still hasn’t come together on the playing field quite yet, Royals fans are probably more optimistic than they have been in quite some time. And rightfully so. They probably won’t contend with the likes of our Detroit Tigers until they get better starting pitching, but there is enough talent there offensively for the Royals to be kind of a trendy pick of a team on the upswing. One of their budding stars, Alex Gordon, got himself an extension today, and whether or not you believe it is a fair deal, it does show the Royals may actually have a plan.
It wasn’t but an off-season ago when the face of the franchise was Zach Greinke, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with Yuniesky Betancourt for four players. It looked very much like same ole business, different day, for the Royals. The truth of the matter is, Zach Greinke didn’t fit with the window of prospects the Royals had coming up, and still have coming up. The 4 players they received in return do.
While the Royals weren’t much better than normal in 2011, we all are beginning to see the makings of a formidable squad starting to develop. The offense, got quality contributions from up and down the lineup, and was bolstered by the addition of superstar in the making Eric Hosmer. Third base prospect Mike Moustakas heated up down the stretch, and we saw a young talented Salvador Perez look very good behind the plate. Add to that the freshly extended Alex Gordon, who, helped by health, looked like one of the best outfielders in the game, the Royals and their fans have something to be excited about.
Royals fans have been hearing about prospects for a long time now though, so I’m sure there is some “I will believe it when I see it” sentiment among their populace. With the exception of 2003 when the Royals won 83 games, they haven’t finished above .500 in the past 18 years. That road called futility is a long one for this once proud franchise of 25 to 30 years ago. Something feels different about them now however.
After plugging a bunch of resources into the draft the past few years, it appears that the Royals are not only getting serious about fielding a talented bunch of players, but actually keeping them. Along with Gordon, the Royals have extended catcher Salvador Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar to what have been lauded as good contracts for the franchise. They traded Melky Cabrera while his value was highest and got some much needed pitching in the talented Jonathan Sanchez, knowing that they had Lorenzo Cain waiting in the wings, who is one of the players acquired in the Greinke deal. There is also word of discussions going on to extend Eric Hosmer as well.
The contract that Gordon signed today is basically a 4 year deal for 37.5M dollars. Any contract of that length is going to be a gamble, but these are Gordon’s prime years, as he is 28 years old. His history of poor health has to be a concern, but what isn’t concerning is the 6.9 fWAR that he put up last season. If he can even put up 80% of that production each season for the next four years, I think this is a bargain. Just click on the Baseball Reference link through Gordon’s name, and you will see he finished in the top 10 in so many categories last season, he appears to be a guy coming into his own. His results are finally matching his talent level when he was drafted 2nd overall in 2005.
I’m still not overly concerned by the Royals this season. The Tigers are going to have to falter something pretty terrible not to win the Central this year, but the Royals commitment to Gordon and others should be a sign to the rest of the division that they are serious about winning.
Even if it still a year or two away.