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Alex Gordon declines player option

The Royals outfielder will hit free agency for the first time in his career.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Royals outfielder Alex Gordon has declined his player option and will become a free agent, according to an official announcement from the team. Gordon would have earned $12.5 million by accepting the option but will instead test the open market for the first time in his career.

Gordon was expected to decline the option, though the Royals' recent World Series championship and the outfielder's perceived loyalty to the team and city led some to believe that he could return on the one-year deal. Gordon is expected to draw significant interest from many teams this winter, with the Red Sox among the clubs already being linked to him.

Gordon, who has spent his entire nine-year career in Kansas City, has stated that he would like to return to the Royals and the team likely has mutual interest in a reunion. Declining his option opens the door for long-term talks between the two sides, though Gordon would be smart to see what other options are available in what appears to be a robust market.

One other option is that the Royals give Gordon a $15.8 million qualifying offer for next season, which would allow them to receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. Gordon may be interested in accepting that offer due to the $3.3 million raise it would provide in comparison to the player option.

In nine seasons with the Royals, Gordon has hit .269/.348/.435 with 134 home runs and 523 RBI. He has been named to the AL All-Star team in each of the last three seasons.