Andy Martino from the New York Daily News reported last evening that the Royals may decide to entertain offers on some of their young hitters, who are about to become expensive for the small market team:
The front office, built of quality baseball men who made a gutsy trade two years ago in acquiring James Shields from Tampa Bay, deserves oodles of credit for launching its roster to a higher plane. These are executives unafraid to be bold, and seize a moment, and their reward was a World Series that Western Missouri will remember for generations. Now, the Royals must navigate a tricky winter, and determine the way forward.
Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have become identified with a magical year, but the team faces looming decisions and/or escalating salary on each player. The expectation within the industry is that they will at least listen to trade offers.
Gordon has one year left on his contract that will pay him $12.5 million in 2015. He has a player option for 2016 for $12.5 million, but he is sure to turn that down, assuming he is not injured, as the current qualifying offer in over $15 million, so he is certainly underpaid and will look for a long term contract after the 2015 season. Gordon is the more tradable of the three, as he is one of the best players in the game as his 6.6 fWAR ranked fifth in baseball in 2014. His 10.1 fWAR over the last two season ranks 15th in MLB, so Dayton Moore could get some solid young prospects in return for Gordon should he choose to deal him this offseason.
The number of hitters on the free agent market this offseason is minimal, so we could see other teams listening on hitters that are a year away from free agency.
Should Gordon move out of Kauffman Stadium, his fantasy value would shoot up, as Kauffman Stadium is one of the better pitchers parks in the game. Kauffman ranked 22nd in MLB with a 0.843 home run factor, meaning the park depressed home runs by more than 15% in 2014.
Hosmer and Moustakas are arbitration eligible in 2015, so they will start to become more expensive next season. Here is more from Martino's piece:
Hosmer and Moustakas are far less urgent cases, but are starting to become expensive through arbitration. Few teams are able to keep all of their homegrown players during these years. From the pure speculation department, we note that Moustakas could fit the Yankees as a terrific defensive third baseman with lefty power potential.
And from the informed speculation department, we bring you this from a rival executive who was in touch with the Royals this year, and came away thinking that "Hosmer could go on to have a good career somewhere else."
The Royals have given no indication that they would deal any of their three young hitters, but they may decide to build around catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar, starter Yordany Ventura and outfielder Lorenzo Cain.
Both Hosmer and Moustakas were important in the Royals World Series run, and are still young, so like Martino writes, there is no urgency to deal them right now, as they will still be relatively cheap in 2015. Gordon is a different story, as he will certainly test the free agent market after next season, and the Royals may choose to deal him now to maximize their return.
There would be many teams interested in Gordon's services, including the Rangers, Orioles, Yankees, Mets, and others. The Rangers are looking to deal one of Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor this offseason, and have a need to replace outfielder Alex Rios, so they could be a match for Moore and the Royals.
The Mets and Yankees could have interest as well. Gordon hitting in Yankee Stadium would be a dream for his fantasy owners, and the Mets are moving their fences in again this offseason, so his value would increase with a move to the Mets as well.
The Red Sox would be another team who could have interest should they decide to deal outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as has been rumored last week. Gordon would seem to be a perfect fit for the Red Sox should Cespedes be dealt.
What other teams would be interested in Gordon? Who am I missing?