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Inbox: Will Gordon retire after '19 season?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers questions from fans
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals recently wrapped up the Winter Meetings by adding speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton, and right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis in the Rule 5 Draft.

Now, they will turn their attention toward adding a bullpen piece or two, but mostly, they will gear up for Spring Training, which should feature some interesting position battles in right field and at third base, as well as in the rotation and bullpen.

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals recently wrapped up the Winter Meetings by adding speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton, and right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis in the Rule 5 Draft.

Now, they will turn their attention toward adding a bullpen piece or two, but mostly, they will gear up for Spring Training, which should feature some interesting position battles in right field and at third base, as well as in the rotation and bullpen.

With that in mind, let's get to the final Royals Inbox of 2018:

Tweet from @luhmanbrewingco: Will this be the final season on the field for Alex Gordon? Are his defensive numbers worthy of Royals HOF?Also, have a merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I enjoy your coverage

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Gordon is without a doubt a Royals Hall of Famer. His six American League Gold Glove Awards alone merit that (at least in my mind, and I am a voter). As to Gordon possibly retiring after 2019, his final season of a four-year, $72 million contract, he spoke openly to me about the possibility late in the season.

"[Baseball] is a grind. I miss my kids and family," Gordon said. "... Who knows? I may want to play longer. Or I may just want to be with my family. It's the family decision I think about most. [Retirement] crosses your mind."

Gordon will be 35 when his contract ends. But he also seemed to be rejuvenated late this past season. Gordon had a .788 OPS over the final 33 games and he also captured his sixth Gold Glove Award. He stays in tremendous shape. I could see him playing another year or two beyond 2019, if he continues his offensive resurgence.

Tweet from @NicPeters715: How far off do you see the young bucks from single-A Lexington and Wilmington arriving with the big club?

That group that won the South Atlantic League championship at Class A Lexington last season -- it included Seuly Matias, MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, and Brewer Hicklen -- probably is at least two years away from the bigs. Expect that group to move through the system together, rapidly, the same way Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas did, and arrive in the Major Leagues together. That will be by design.

Tweet from @HuskerInsanity: Are you on Ned's naughty list again?

Some fans think Ned Yost and I always are angry at each other, but truthfully, we're just being playful 99 percent of the time. He teases me because he knows I can take it, and because he knows I will dish it back.

Tweet from @Keckcie: Are we still looking for a veteran starter and if so does a Shields or Santana make sense more for this clubhouse than necessarily results on the field?

That's really a thoughtful question. If the Royals were one more year along in the rebuild, I would say bringing a veteran presence into the rotation would be a wise decision. I think at this point, though, they are rightfully more consumed with sorting out who among their young pitchers will fit into the future. They need those answers this season. After that, as they gear toward becoming a contender again, they can add mentors.

Tweet from @BigSamMob: Will Richard Lovelady be given a look to be a part of the Opening Day bullpen?

Lovelady, a left-hander who is ranked as the Royals' No. 13 prospect by MLB Pipeline, doesn't have to go on the 40-man roster until next fall. However, it wouldn't be a shock if he simply wowed the coaching staff and won a job out of camp. I wouldn't count on it, but it's possible. Still, the odds of him making his MLB debut in 2019 are high.

Tweet from @MartyCarpino: Where and when will Nicky Lopez work his way in, and will Paulo Orlando be stuck in AAA forever? Also are the rumors true Moose could come back?

Like Lovelady, Lopez is on a similar trajectory. He doesn't have to be on the 40-man roster until next fall. And he could make his MLB debut this season. But general manager Dayton Moore told me he is not going to bring up Lopez just to be a backup, so keep that in mind. Orlando is an interesting subject -- he looked like another wonderful late bloomer when he emerged on the scene and hit .302 in 2016. But he has regressed the last two seasons, and now he is 33. The window of opportunity is closing. As for Moustakas, it wouldn't seem likely he'd come back again on a one-year deal, just to be flipped in late July. But you never know.

Tweet from @AlfieSolomons4: One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf, and favorite scene is when Mr. Narwahl says goodbye to Buddy. If Ned is Mr. Narwhal, when does he say goodbye?

Yost hinted toward the end of the season that even though he's content with a year-to-year contract, he might manage past 2019. He reiterated that at the Winter Meetings. My guess is that when he thinks the rebuild has enough momentum that the Royals are no longer in danger of losing 90 or more games, he will step aside. He believed he could absorb the necessary losses in the early stage of a rebuild better than a new skipper could. I also would expect Yost to remain in the organization in some capacity when he steps away from managing.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

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