Though it is not official yet (though ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the deal is finalized), it seems the KC Royals are losing DH Billy Butler to the Oakland A’s. The deal is reportedly $30 million for three years.
The A’s had one of the best offenses in the game in the first half of the 2014 season before trading left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester. Lester pitched well, but the A’s offense suffered. The once American League West leading A’s dropped far back of the eventual winner (LA Angels) and almost lost the Wild Card spot. The A’s did lose the Wild Card game to the Royals, leading to their first World Series run since 1985.
So the A’s are looking for some offense this winter and settled on Butler. He had a down season and isn’t known for his power. The A’s have plenty of mashers (Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick to name a few) and strikeout guys, but do not have higher-average hitters.
That is where Butler comes in, if he can rebound from this past season.
Also, Butler is just 29 years old. I know it seems like he has been around forever (which maybe he has), but he is still relatively young. He has avoided the DL over his last six seasons and stepped up HUGE when teammate Eric Hosmer hit the DL for the month of August. He has also played 150-plus games in every full season of his big league career.
The head-scratching part of this deal is that the A’s have so many players that DH or play first base (they used 13 in 2014). Moss is one, they recently acquired Kyle Blanks, they tend to carry three catchers on their roster, and the hulking Nate Freiman. However, their DH’s combined to hit just .215 on the season.
As a team, the A’s only hit .239 against left-handed pitching, while Butler hit .321 against lefties.
Plus, the A’s kept Butler from going to division-rival Seattle, where the Mariners have been rumored to have wanted him for years.
The Royals never really seemed serious about bringing Butler back, despite saying they were interested after declining his $12.5 million option. They NEVER would go to three years (maybe a discounted two years). Butler made $8 million in 2014, so a raise of two million isn’t outrageous.
It will be weird seeing Butler in any uniform but the Royals, a uniform he has worn proudly since being selected 17th overall in 2004.