Alex Gordon hasn’t done a whole lot since the Royals recalled him from the minors in mid-July, hitting .233/.323/.375 in 52 games, but he’s drawn some walks, shown some power, and most importantly is finally getting another chance to play regularly after destroying Triple-A pitching.
Gordon will turn 27 years old this winter, so the former college player of the year and No. 2 overall pick is rapidly approaching “put up or shut up” time given his .247/.330/.408 career line in 1,601 plate appearances as a big leaguer.
And he’s certainly talking a good game about his plans for 2011, telling Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he’s “going to dominate next year.”
Here’s more from Gordon:
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.
Gordon is never going to live up to the tremendous hype he had as a college star or top-ranked prospect, but I remain convinced that he can be a very solid big-league hitter. I’m not quite as confident about that happening in Kansas City, because the Royals sent him to the minors at age 26 and only recalled him when he put up ridiculous numbers for three months at Triple-A.
With that said, general manager Dayton Moore talked to Dutton about Gordon and indicated that perhaps they have a bit more faith in him than I believed:
I think Alex is going to have a great year next year. I really do. I think Alex is going to be a solid contributor. 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.
I still think there’s a pretty good chance the Royals trade Gordon this offseason, but if he does remain in Kansas City at least it now sounds like he’ll do so as an everyday player in 2011. And after that, if Gordon fails to produce, then he sank on his own.
With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.
“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”
Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.
Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.
It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.
The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.
Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.
As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.
Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.
Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.
The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.
Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.