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Royals, Alex Gordon agree to $4.775M deal
Major League Baseball
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Gordon doesn’t know where negotiations stand on a long-term contract. He doesn’t even know how much he deserves to make after a breakout season with the Kansas City Royals.
All he knows is that he’s under contract for next season, and spring training is almost here.
“I don’t know what I should make, what I shouldn’t make. I just go out there, practice hard, work hard, and the games take care of themselves,” said Gordon, who avoided arbitration Thursday by agreeing to a $4,775,000 contract for 2012.
“I don’t focus on any of the business side,” he added. “I’ll get the details, but I really don’t know what I’m doing, so I leave it up to them.”
The Royals have made at least one offer to Gordon’s agent, Casey Close, for a long-term deal. But the sides shelved those discussions while negotiating a one-year agreement that allows them to avoid an arbitration hearing next week.
Gordon filed a request for $5.45 million, while the team countered with $4.15 million. He made $1.5 million last season, and is still under the Royals’ control next season.
Gordon could earn a $25,000 bonus for reaching 700 plate appearances this season, 12 more than his career high set last year, when he batted .303 with 23 homers and 87 RBIs.
“We’re going to work very hard to get all our good players signed long term,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Thursday. “We’re always open to it, as long as it’s not a distraction. The important thing is Alex — which he always is, is that Alex is prepared.”
That shouldn’t be an issue.
Gordon already is working out with about a dozen teammates in Arizona. Pitchers and catchers don’t report to Surprise until Feb. 20, and the first full-squad workout is Feb. 25.
“It’s pretty laid back right now, but there’s a lot of guys out here,” he said. “It’s good to see that. Right now we’re just having fun and enjoying the time we’re having right now.”
The second overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft, Gordon had been slow to meet the lofty expectations that were placed upon him after a standout career at Nebraska.
He bounced between the big league roster and the minors for a few years, and only appeared in 74 games with Kansas City in 2010. He got off to a slow start in spring training last year, too, before some extra work with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and manager Ned Yost finally paid off.
Gordon, who turns 28 on Friday, set career highs for batting average, homers, RBIs, runs scored (101) and stolen bases (17) last season. He finished 10th in the American League in hitting and tied for sixth in the majors in doubles and extra-base hits (72).
The only other players with at least a .300 average, 45 doubles and 20 homers were Miguel Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and Robinson Cano.
“Ned gave me a lot of confidence and showed a lot of confidence in me,” Gordon said, “and he’s believed in me since Day 1. It’s very easy to play for a manager that shows that kind of respect and that kind of confidence in his players.”
Gordon said the confidence he built up last season has carried over to offseason workouts, which he began with the start of the new year. He’s mostly doing light throwing and taking some at-bats in Arizona, but the work will begin to ramp up in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, Moore expects to continue dialogue with his representatives on a deal that could keep the outfielder with the Royals far beyond next season.
“I think they’ve made an offer or something like that. I think we both wanted to get the one year deal done and maybe move on from there,” Gordon said. “We got that done and hopefully we can move on from here. That’s really what we want to accomplish.”