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Cardinals sell Joey Butler to Japanese team

May 23, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

Joey Butler Cardinals Getty Images

Joey Butler, a 28-year-old outfielder who appeared in six games with the Cardinals this season, is headed to Japan to play for the Orix Buffaloes. St. Louis will get cash in return for the former 15th-round pick.

Butler has put up some big numbers in the minors, including hitting .360 with four homers and a 1.028 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A this season. He’s a career .293 hitter in the minors.

In another organization Butler probably would have gotten a bigger opportunity, but the Cardinals are rich in outfielders in the majors and still have stud prospect Oscar Taveras waiting in the wings at Triple-A. He’ll make a lot more money and play a lot more in Japan.

  1. SocraticGadfly - May 23, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Nice move in giving him a bigger opportunity, assuming he’s OK with playing in Japan. And, right, if you’ve got Taveras AND Grichuk in front, and Piscotty behind, and you’re over 25, your shot at serious MLB time with the Cards is unlikely.

    • beepbeepbeeplgb - May 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      yep, now james ramsey will definitely get the call to AAA in the next few weeks. especially if we call up taveras or grichuk.

      • SocraticGadfly - May 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        Exactly on the domino effect. Get a chance to see what Ramsey will do. Assuming that, as Mo has hinted, Taveras gets the call-up during that early June AL swing, Ramsey might get a Memphis cup of coffee then.

        And, although it’s not panic time this year (we make up 1 game a month and we’re ahead of Milwaukee at the end of season), at some point, a trade could come up to help clear that logjam further.

  2. missingdiz - May 23, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    I’m curious about how this works. Does he have to go to Japan? Is he not allowed to sign on with another organization in the States?

    • renaado - May 23, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      Playin in Japan definitely has a chance of him becomin a regular, even though he struggles let’s just say, managers there always gives them a chance to improve. He’ll certainly have fun there with em especially along with Wily Mo and Yoshio Itoi aka “Yoshi”. Truly it will be a fun experience for him.

    • jwbiii - May 23, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      A player can’t transferred outside of the U.S. and Canada without his permission. So yeah, he wants to play there. Some teams make a practice of loaning their players to the Mexican League, almost all of them are Mexican. The Astros recently loaned Japhet Amador to the Mexico City Diablos Rojos.

      As for having fun in Japan, it seems a player gets what he gives. Those who try to embrace the culture seem likely to do well and have fun. Those who hang out in ex-pat bars seem not to. Many of these players have twitter feeds, I am not making this up.

  3. digbysellers - May 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    He doesn’t “have” to go to Japan, he wanted to go to Japan. I’m sure his agent was looking for an opportunity elsewhere and put this deal together. STL would rather use his spot to help bring a better prospect along so why not let the guy go make more cash and open up his roster spot. It’s not like they traded him to a Japanese team and he’s got no other choice.

    • missingdiz - May 23, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      OK, thanks.

  4. mustbechris - May 23, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    What are Kyle Kendrick’s thoughts on this?

    • bleedgreen - May 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      He wants a hot dog.

  5. Carl Hancock - May 23, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    I hope Butler does well in Japan. He deserves a shot with how he’s hit in the minors but he isn’t getting any younger and the Cardinals are loaded with outfield talent.

  6. paperlions - May 23, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Well, the Cardinals picked him up off of waivers from the Rangers during the off-season. So, essentially, no one else wanted a free Joey Butler. Waiver order in MLB goes by league, so no team in the AL claimed him and it got all the way to StL (the last in line in the NL) before he was claimed.

    Maybe he would have gotten a bigger opportunity with another team….but every other team had a chance at him for free and passed and every other team had to know that he was available if they wanted him.

  7. ud1951 - May 23, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Now, sending Butler down to call up Shane Robinson makes more sense. I have thought for some time Butler’s agent should be trying to find him work somewhere else, as he clearly was not going to get a shot with the Cardinals despite putting up enormous numbers in AAA. When they put him on the 40 man roster and called him up, I thought, wow, I guess I was wrong. Then in two weeks he got 6 plate appearances and 5 innings in the field.

    I hope he goes over there and puts up monster numbers. He lost his spot on the Rangers 40 man roster last year to Nelson Cruz when his PED suspension ended, so he’s due some good karma.

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