TCS Morning 5: Now there's an Alex Gordon rumor to entertain us for a while

1. Finally some new rumors. Todd Frazier was getting really boring, or better said, fantasizing a team still a major piece away from being taken seriously was getting boring.

Gordon was quietly just as good or better than Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton last year when healthy. He's been over 120 wRC+ for four of the last five years and has held on to the title of "Best Defensive Left Fielder" for some time now. If the question is who would be the best in 2016 between the three, the soon-to-be 32-year-old Gordon would have as good of a chance as any. He's hit .281/.359/.450 in Kauffman Stadium since 2011, and fWAR, especially fWAR dependent on corner outfield defense is not trustworthy, but 25 fWAR in five years is a lot of damn fWAR.

He's good. He blows away Avisail Garcia, hell he blows Melky Cabrera to the other side of the diamond without question just to get his natural position, he's far too elite of a talent for the Royals to adequately replace him, and I'm nowhere naive enough anymore to think that throwing a World Series champion into a clubhouse with a core that's never been to the playoffs is worthless.

This is as firm as any rumors about the Sox targeting one of the major three corner outfielders, and portends very good things about what the 2016 roster will look like.

2. So let's lay out the doubt.

Let's assume this in reference to the amount the Sox need to pull in Gordon beyond the hometown discount he might settle for with the Royals, who are by multiple reports, waiting out his market hoping it drops to a level that doesn't hamstring their future efforts to extend and re-sign the younger parts of their core. This is to say nothing of other outside bidders.

Hopefully this is an issue of clearing roster space, because if the ability to trade the $13 million salary of a LaRoche is hampered by the availability of guys who were non-tendered this offseason, they are not going to be able to trade LaRoche. And if the quality of their offer to Gordon is going to be hampered unless they can offload LaRoche's salary, then it's going to be hampered, because that is just not a movable commodity.

This could be one of the paths to the question of Why Gordon? He exists in the $100 million territory in all likelihood and would require the largest contract in White Sox history, so what's stopping them from going all the way and pursuing Upton or Cespedes? The budget, always reportedly stretched thin and to the point where a big free agent like Gordon wasn't anticipated, is always an easy answer. But the focus on his AL Central success--in light of recent rough league transitions like LaRoche and Dunn--and the desire to specifically weaken the Royals hints of the typical White Sox focus of viewing and building themselves in terms of their division, rather than simply fashioning an elite club in a vacuum. 

To land Gordon, the Sox will need pay for his mid-30s production and accept recent injury red flags not present with Upton and Cespedes. It's a move that's a better overlap with the two year window of Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie being under control than someone who will go stride-for-stride with Abreu and Eaton. Again, Gordon is a bold, winning move for the Sox to make and if 2016 and 2017 go well enough, only a misanthrope would lament the backend of the deal, but it's strange that the first contract to lure the Sox past the $100 million threshold could be one with such traditional pitfalls.

3. Combined with Olney's report from earlier in the week and the Gordon rumors, it does not look like a qualifying offer is going to be a significant hurdle, or a major factor in their decision of who to go after. As was pointed out to me when I lazily suggested that a supplemental round pick could be the next Keenyn Walker, the new draft format and slotting system has upgraded the value, it's still not up to the point of swaying such a franchise-altering decision like this. Missing on the biggest contract in franchise history is going to hurt a lot more than botching a draft pick.

4. What a strange post-White Sox life Alejandro De Aza has experienced. Or it's better said, what a benefit it can be to a player's reputation to be a part-time guy on winning ballclubs rather than a full-time flop on a loser. Hitting with the platoon advantage with far more frequency, he's hit .268/.333/.445 since leaving the South Side, which is enough power to make his corner outfield reality more palatable, and playing corner outfield has allowed him to look quick and athletic and kept his bizarre routes from view. He's played all of three games in center since being traded.

De Aza was essentially given away by the Sox, which is hard to quibble with since they only had a month of his services to offer, but the frustration the Sox fanbase, and really any everyday observer had with him upon his exit, stands in curious contrast with the productive player he's been since.

That said, the Mets are going to put him in center and could be essentially replacing Yoenis Cespedes with him, and he will be reviled.

5. Look into the future: The NBA's announced plan to use their advertising might and visibility to air PSAs this Christmas about the nation's dire gun violence epidemic is likely a beginning, not a blip. That the NBA is being more aggressive and progressive than other leagues is tied to their uniquely international market. Given how much private entities are already allowed and enabled to influence public policy, expecting organizations as wealthy and influential as sports leagues to stand clear of controversial issues--and in this case, obvious crises--for the sake of preserving the private sanctuary of thoughtless sports consumption is beyond naive. For goodness sake, spend a minute thinking of all the stuff they already get you to sit through to watch their product, or how much is already providing tacit approval to certain political viewpoints  

Sports franchises already shape public policy with the demands they place on local governments to accommodate them financially, and are regularly huge political donors. Sports having political will is not new, the NBA is merely being more open about it.