Oct 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitterBilly Butler
reacts after hitting a RBI double against the San Francisco Giants in the second inning during game six of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Royals are not expected to pick up the team option on DH/first baseman Billy Butler, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The move, while not official, makes sense from a Royals standpoint. Butler was due to make $12M in 2015, and after his worst offensive season since 2008, it would be a gamble to pay a player $4M more that what you had him for in 2014; especially if that player is primarily a DH.
Why, then, would it make sense for the Oakland Athletics to go after the 28-year old Butler? Here’s how I could see it happening. The A’s could use a bat in the cleanup spot, and a right-handed bat at that. Someone to protect Josh Donaldson at three, but also have Brandon Moss batting fifth. Billy Butler is that type of player.
While his 2014 was subpar, his career numbers are actually quite good. Here is the comparison:
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Donaldson led the team in batting average at .255 in 2014. Even in a down year, Butler hit better than that by sixteen points. The home run and rbi totals of 2014 are not much of a concern for me. If they stay around that mark, so be it. The potential is there for Butler to have a huge offensive season, like the one that he had in 2012, with 29 homers and 107 rbi. Even an addition of 2013 Billy Butler (.289, 15 hr, 82 rbi) would be welcome. His track record, and his relatively young age suggest that his numbers will be improved in 2015.
Butler can also hit lefties. In 2014, the slugger hit .321 with an OBP (On-Base Percentage) of .387. Worried about an improved Seattle team in 2015? Over the past three seasons, Butler has hit .353 against the Mariners. Still think Detroit is our nemesis? Butler has a career average of .330 against their staff. including a .405 mark against Justin Verlander.
Butler has had a pretty decent playoff stretch in 2014, hitting .333 in the World Series. Overall, Butler batted .262 in the postseason, but went hitless (0-for-9) in three quick games against the Angels, which hurt his overall average. His teammates picked him up that series, and he picked them up in the ALCS and WS. That’s how a team works. The A’s could use a clutch hitter, and Butler could also be that guy.
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I listed his doubles totals. His career average is 38 per season, and he had 32 in 2014. By comparison, Yoenis Cespedes, with all of his speed, had 36 in 2014. Having Butler hitting behind Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson, who both like to get on base, and in front of Moss, who is in fact, boss, could rejuvenate the offense into some big innings.
Butler won’t help the team at all defensively, but also won’t hurt much since he’ll be the DH.
Billy Butler is a right-handed bat that can hit for average and quite possibly power. But can the A’s afford him? While he was set to make $12.5M in 2015, if his option is declined, he will likely be looking at less. If the Royals do decline, there is a $1M buyout. Say the A’s offered him $10-11M. With the buyout, he’d be making right around the $12M he was supposed to. Is Billy Butler worth that much? That’s the tough part. I see Butler as more of a $8-10M player. Would I like him on my team? Yes. That would mean Oakland may have to overpay a little, but he could make a great addition to the team.