Big news just broke from FanFest as Billy Butler has agreed to a four year deal that will pay him $30 million. He was in his first year of arbitration eligibility and had asked the Royals for a $4.3 million contract for 2011. The Royals offered $3.4 million.
[Update] According to @aroundthehornkc (MLB.com’s Royals Blog on Twitter), the deal also includes a fifth year as a club option. Barring trade, injury or release, Butler will be a Royal through 2015.
Apparently the two sides were close enough there that they just negotiated a long-term deal right now to get it out of the way.
Both sides benefit from the agreement, as Billy gets a nice guaranteed chunk of money through his peak years and will still be just 28 years old when the deal expires after 2014. The Royals benefit by buying out three arbitration years and one year of free agency and still have a club option available after that. They don’t have to worry about negotiations with Billy for a while now. Also, it’s a very team-friendly contract at an average of $7.5 million a season.
[Update #2] Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the deal gives Butler a $2 million signing bonus, pays him $3 million in 2011, $8 million in each of 2012, 2013 and 2014. The club option in 2015 is for $12.5 million and includes a $1 million buyout. So at his peak of his career, as prospects are hopefully leading the charge towards the playoffs, Billy Butler will only cost the Royals $8 million in those key seasons. That leaves a lot of payroll flexibility for Dayton Moore for those important years.
What this means for Kila Ka’aihue is another matter. With Eric Hosmer maybe a year and a half away from making the big leagues, Ka’aihue looks to be the odd man out. Likewise for Texas League Triple Crown winner Clint Robinson who’s currently on the 40 man roster and approaching his first year of Triple A ball. Both could be trade candidates later in the season or next offseason.