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Alex Gordon With Yet Another Example Of Why He's One Of The Best Left Fielders In The Game

From 2013 through 2015, Alex Gordon had been a .267 hitter with a .776 OPS and averaged 17 home runs and 68 RBIs. This past offseason, he re-upped with the World Series champion Kansas City Royals on a 4-year, $72 million deal. In 2018 and 2019, he’s owed $20 million per season, and the deal holds a mutual option for 2020 worth $23 million. Think back about ten years ago — if you looked at Gordon’s numbers from the three years leading up to his free agency, and if a player with those offensive numbers said they were looking for $20 million a year, it wouldn’t be a matter of if you’d laugh, but how hard you’d laugh.

In the three years leading up to his free agency after the 2005 season, Rafael Furcal hit .285 with a .777 OPS for the Atlanta Braves, and averaged 14 home runs and 59 RBIs. Pretty solid comparison, albeit they played different positions. If anything, the odds tip in favor of Furcal, because he was heading into his age-28 season with his new deal, and Gordon is in his age-32 season in year-one of his new deal. The Dodgers gave Furcal a three-year, $39 million deal as a free agent. That’s an average annual value of $13 million, while Gordon was four years older, got an extra guaranteed year AND a mutual fifth-year option, an average annual value that’s $5 million more per year, and $33 million more in total dollars.

Inflation can only factor in so much here. It’s ten years we’re talking about. Obviously the growth of baseball as a business factors in as well, but there’s another big factor at play. The Steroid Era is a thing of the past, and you can’t just close your eyes, throw a dart at a list of free agents and end up with a player who has an OPS over .850 anymore. It’s just not that kind of game. Ten years ago, $20 million a year players were the guys who could hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs, and the pitchers who won 20 games and struck out 250 batters a year. That was it.

In today’s game, teams are now forced to look elsewhere for what they should value, and what they should throw tons of money at. In 2005, there were 20 players who hit at least 30 home runs and drove in at least 100 runs. In 2015, there were eleven. Now, teams are spending big on defense. Look no further than Jason Heyward getting $184 million over eight years from the Cubs, and reportedly had an offer in hand worth at least $200 million. And, of course, Gordon’s extension with the Royals. Hey, why not? It’s the old Ozzie Smith philosophy of saving a run defensively is just as good as driving in a run offensively.