Boston Red Sox emerging as potential suitor for free agent outfielder Alex Gordon


Assuming that he declines the $12.5 million player option on his contract with the Kansas City Royals, outfielder Alex Gordon will become one of the more enticing position players on the free agent market this winter. While the three-time All-Star is bound to have no shortage of suitors, one potential landing spot comes as a bit of a surprise, as the Boston Red Sox have begun to emerge as an option.

The Red Sox would appear to be set at the position, with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo roaming the outfield at Fenway Park. They form a tremendous defensive trio with some untapped firepower at the plate that began to show itself in the second half of this season once the team shifted toward using this group as their primary outfielders. Despite a strong finish from this exciting young core of outfielders, these results may not dissuade the Red Sox from chasing a proven veteran like Gordon, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

"“Boston probably has too many outfielders for too few spots,” writes Sherman. “But executives tell me that Red Sox officials have always liked Gordon and so has new Boston president Dave Dombrowski from his time in the AL Cenral as the Tigers’ GM.”"

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The top priority for the Red Sox is finding a top of the rotation starter, but Sherman goes on to outline a scenario in which one of their young outfielders becomes a trade chip in a package for an ace, with Gordon coming in as a replacement in the outfield. If the front office isn’t convinced that Bradley’s second-half breakout at the plate is anywhere near sustainable, perhaps they look to sell high. Betts should be close to untouchable in almost any trade scenario, but if a team is enticed enough by Bradley or Castillo then either could be moved in order to land a front-line starter.

If the Red Sox were to part with one of their outfielders, Gordon makes for an appealing replacement. His slash line of .271/.377/.432 this year is essentially a dream scenario for what they hope Bradley can eventually produce over a full season. He also has a bit of pop in his bat, having averaged nearly 18 home runs over the last five seasons, while playing half his games in pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium.

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Gordon has been one of the league’s best left fielders for the last half decade, piling up 27.1 WAR since 2011. The problem for the Red Sox is that much of that value stems from his elite defense, which is essentially wasted playing in Fenway’s shallow left field. Gordon has won a Gold Glove in each of the last four seasons, but we don’t know what his comfort level would be playing the position in Boston. He obviously wouldn’t be as much of a disaster as Hanley Ramirez was this year, but he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to be considered a great defender in another environment, only to struggle in the imposing shadow of the Green Monster.

If Gordon hits the free agent market then he should be able to command a significant raise, but given that he’l turn 32 before next season, the length of the deal is likely to pale in comparison to some of the top free agent pitchers. A deal in the neighborhood of 4-years, $60 million, combined with a trade that jettisons Bradley or Castillo for a young, cost controlled ace, would wind up being significantly cheaper than chasing one the Big Three starters on the market.

Dombrowski has discussed the need to add depth by exploring options to bring in a fourth outfielder. Adding Gordon in order to make JBJ or Castillo into a backup outfielder would be a waste of resources. If they can sell high on one of those outfielders to land a top of the rotation starter instead of getting into a bidding war for one on the free agent market, then their interest in Gordon begins to make sense.