Royals sign Alex Gordon to four-year, $37.5 million deal

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Update: The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton reports the first four seasons are worth $37.5 million: $6 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014 and $12.5 million in 2015. The Royals are paying more than they likely needed to for the next two years (Gordon was already signed for $4.775 million for 2012), but they’ll make it back in his free agent seasons if Gordon remains one of the game’s top 20 or 30 outfielders.

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2011 was very much a make-or-break year for Alex Gordon in Kansas City. It’s safe to say he made it.

The Royals on Friday announced the signing of their former first-round pick to a four-year deal with a player option for 2016.

After struggling to establish himself for four years with the Royals, Gordon busted through to hit .303/.376/.502 with 23 homers, 87 RBI and 17 steals last season. The converted third baseman also won a Gold Glove for his play in left field (though that should have gone to Brett Gardner) and finished seventh among AL position players in WAR (the Baseball-Reference version).

No word yet on the terms of the deal, though $30 million-$32 million for the first four years seems like a reasonable guess. Gordon avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, signing a one-year, $4.775 million deal, but this pact replaces that one. He would have been eligible for free agency for the first time after the 2013 season.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.