Aug 18, 2009, 4:21 PM EDT
In what looks like one of the most shameful service-time manipulations in baseball history, the Royals demoted Alex Gordon to Triple-A on Tuesday to make room for Kyle Farnsworth on the roster.
Ready or not, Gordon, with just one season as pro under his belt, was rushed from Double-A to the majors to begin 2007. The team stuck with him then despite some ugly results, and the only times he had returned to the minors since was on rehab assignments. Of course, that meant he’d have three years of service time at the end of this year, leaving him on track to become a free agent after 2012. Now the Royals can push that back until 2013 if they wait at least 20 days to recall him.
Gordon has hit .198/.300/.313 in his 29 games this season, so we won’t see a grievance here. If it were May, it’d be a perfectly legitimate move. But it’s August 18. There are three weeks left in the minor league season. The Royals aren’t playing for anything at all, and they should want Gordon to get every major league at-bat his surgically repaired hip can handle. Instead, they’re going to have him work with inferior coaches and get pitched around by Triple-A pitchers. When Gordon was on his rehab assignment before returning last month, he batted .350/.491/.650 with three homers in 40 at-bats. Hitting minor league pitching isn’t an issue.
If the Royals follow through with this and cost Gordon a year of service time, then they’ll still control him in 2013, when he’ll likely be a much better player than he is now. But that’s something they should have thought about in 2007. To pull this stunt in Aug. 2009 would seem to make it significantly less likely that he’ll still be playing in Kansas City in 2014. Gordon has little reason to forget and forgive.
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