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So, what’s the market for Billy Butler anyway?

Oct 22, 2013, 7:10 PM EDT

Josh Phegley, Jerry Meals, Billy Butler AP

This kind of doubles as a “what’s the market for Kendrys Morales?” post, too.

Anyway, the Royals have let it be known that Billy Butler is available, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Had they done this a year ago, they would have been in line for a nice return. Now? Probably not so much. Butler will make $8 million next year, and his deal includes a 2015 option worth $12.5 million-$14.5 million, plus he’s due a little bonus if traded. For a pure DH, that’s a substantial sum. Also, Butler is also coming off his worst season since 2009. I assume he has better seasons in front of him, but since he’s a zero with the glove and a big minus on the basepaths, he needs to hit .300 with 25 homers per year in order to be a major asset.

So, what teams might be in the market for a rather costly DH this winter?

Baltimore: A strong right-handed hitter to plop behind Chris Davis in the lineup would do the Orioles a lot of good.

Seattle: I tried to get behind a Butler-to-Seattle deal last year before the Mariners acquired Morales. Maybe it could happen this winter, but only if Morales rejects a qualifying offer and leaves in free agency. That’d be a dangerous gamble for him.

Texas: The Rangers gave Lance Berkman a whirl last winter, but it didn’t work out.  They could still use a true DH, but a left-hander would be nice considering that Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre all swing righty.

New York: The Yankees have preferred to bargain hunt for DH options of late, and they may not be able to take on a pure one unless they decide to release Vernon Wells. Depending on how the outfield shakes out, it may be Alfonso Soriano‘s spot.

Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay figures to add a part-time DH to replace Luke Scott, but they’ll be looking into the bargain bin.

Oakland: GM Billy Beane seems to be prizing versatility and flexibility with his lineup, and on the off chance he does look to add a big bat, it’d probably be a left-hander to hit between Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes.

Minnesota: The Twins could certainly use the offense, but they’re not in any sort of position to give up talent for an $8 million DH.

Cleveland: The Indians intend to bring back free agent Jason Giambi, and they’ll probably continue giving Carlos Santana starts at DH with Yan Gomes behind the plate.

Los Angeles: Between Mark Trumbo, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, there’s no room for a full-time DH in Anaheim.

Houston: There’s better way for the Astros to spend if they’re going to loosen the purse strings.

That’s maybe three legitimate suitors for Butler in Baltimore, Seattle and Texas. NL teams aren’t really any sort of an option; Butler can play first base when necessary, but no team is going to want him as a full-timer there. Given the limited market, I’m not sure it makes much sense for the Royals to move him. They still have a whole lot of use for his right-handed bat for one thing. If they could get a top prospect in return, it might be worth going in a different direction. But that return probably isn’t out there.

Morales faces the same sort of problem if he turns down the Mariners’ $13.5 million-$14 million qualifying offer. No, a team won’t have to trade for him, but it will have to forfeit a pick to sign him, which could be just as bad. Perhaps a couple of NL teams will consider Morales as a first baseman — he’s more viable there than Butler is — but I’m really skeptical he’ll get a three- or four-year deal.

  1. weaselpuppy - Oct 22, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    For a club that needs another middle of the order stick to make it over the top, dumping Butler doesn’t make a ton of sense here…also given they don’t have an heir apparent in the DH slot seeings as their OF play good D as does their 1b…curious.

    That said, Baltimore make sense, but not sure the match is there.

    Seattle could let Morales go and try some kind of Ackley+ ??(Erasmo Ramirez?) for Butler type thing

    • Mark61 - Oct 23, 2013 at 5:11 AM

      Orioles fan and season-ticket holder checking in here. A year ago the O’s would have loved to have had Butler but now, it seems, less so. Danny Valencia has shown aptitude for the position, and can play corner infield positions in an emergency (e.g., the April Manny-still-injured emergency) and thus is more versatile. We could use a left-handed DH to compliment Valencia.

      Yes, of course there is a starting pitching need here. Perhaps more of a package deal could be worked out with KC. I hear James Shields pitches there, and we have a couple of young arms with unrequited promise. Zach Britton and Brian Matusz come immediately to mind.

      • dan1111 - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Danny Valencia had a nice 50 games for Baltimore, but he has no track record of being a good hitter. I seriously doubt that they are penciling him into the DH spot for next year.

    • dan1111 - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      I agree, trading him would be silly. The club with the greatest need for him is: Kansas City.

  2. watermelon1 - Oct 22, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    This is the complete opposite of what Baltimore needs.

    They need the get much better on the base paths, much better in situational hitting, and of course… The really big issue: pitching all across the board.

    Losing Machado hurts so much on both the defense and offense. They need to be worrying about replacing that. Not getting someone to hit behind Davis.

    Ante up for kershaw, that is the best thing they could do.

    • jlovenotjlo - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      How does a team get better at “situational hitting”, as opposed to hitting in general?

      • jarathen - Oct 23, 2013 at 8:06 AM

        More sacrifice bunts, giving up outs to get runners to third, and then striking out.

  3. jlovenotjlo - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    I don’t understand the Royals trying to sell off while they could be a legitimate playoff contender next season. Unless I’m reading into this wrong, I would think that they’d in the market to pick up players who can impact the team right now, not ship them out.

    Or is one season over .500 enough to satisfy management for 6-7 years?

  4. philliesblow - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    “but since he’s a zero with the glove and a big minus on the basepaths”

    Sounds like a match made in heaven to fill the soon to be open 2nd base spot for the Tigers.

  5. steelers88 - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    If he could play 1B he would be a great fit for the Pirates.

  6. rhmurphy - Oct 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    The new market inefficiency is selling low.

  7. manifunk - Oct 23, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Uh Morales has already said he will reject the QO: Maybe do some research next time.

    • stex52 - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      That’s not the point. All the more reason why you should give him a QO. You are protecting your interests for a very reasonable price.

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