Oakland Athletics Trade Rumors: Billy Butler on the Trade Block

thereal21st
Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler (16) high fives team mates after hitting a home run against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler (16) high fives team mates after hitting a home run against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Oakland Athletics took a gamble by signing Billy Butler to a three-year, $30 million contract last winter. After a disappointing 2014 season from a player standpoint, the A’s front office hoped for a bounce-back campaign from the 29-year-old. Unfortunately, those projections didn’t translate in 2015, and the designated hitter might not get a chance to redeem himself in 2016 — if General Manager David Forst can find a suitor for the Florida native.

This week, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle briefly mentioned that the Athletics “have asked around” with the intention of moving the nine-year veteran. Thus far, it appears not one organization is willing to pull the trigger — whether it be for performance or contract-based reasons. 

Although, if Butler has a promising spring training and gets off to a hot start in April like he did last season by posting a .260 batting average in 96 plate appearances, with three home runs and 12 RBI, maybe opposing ball clubs would reconsider the right-hander to revamp an offensively-challenged lineup or looking for some sort of veteran presence.

It’s quite possible that his four month fiasco at the plate could have been a fluke; but when you factor in Butler’s career-low .323 on-base percentage, with the amount of double plays he grounded into (26) in 2015, and incorporate his minimal speed attribution with clubhouse chemistry concerns,- then you ultimately have a recipe for disaster.

For an Oakland Athletics organization building for the future, it wouldn’t be wise to take at-bats away from their highly-touted prospects knocking on the door like Renato Nunez or Rangel Ravelo. These two have yet to solidify themselves at the two-infield corner positions, but possess a promising amount of raw-power at the plate.

Personally, I would like to see Mark Canha as the Athletics full-time designated hitter in 2016 while occasionally starting at first-base against left-handed pitchers. This, at the very least would open the door for Oakland to sign/acquire an everyday left fielder, or address the need for a frontline starter with a Coco Crisp and Jake Smolinski platoon covering left in the meantime.

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At some point, the A’s are going to have to make a decision with the 2004 first-round pick: eat a majority of his contract (whether it comes via trade or is released), bench him, or keep their fingers crossed that Butler leads the Athletics to the promise land.

It’s only January, so who’s to say that the green and gold are done wheeling-and-dealing. For now, all A’s fans can do is remain optimistic and hope for the best.

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