Aug 7, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) hits a double in the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Stop Trying to Trade Billy Butler

Jul 14, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana (41) throws the ball as Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire David Rackley (86) in the ninth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed that we had gotten past the thought that Billy Butler should, or would, be traded. It was thought that, with two years left on his contract heading into next season, that this would be the perfect time to trade Butler and to maximize his value. Yet, Butler has been the Royals most consistent hitter over the last few seasons, a player that is truly a professional hitter. For a team that struggled offensively last season, trading that type of a player just would not make sense.

However, the idea of trading Butler has started to circulate once again. Since it is thought that the Royals could use help in the starting rotation after James Shields and Jason Vargas, the thought has begun to circulate that the Royals should trade Butler for pitching help. Well, that thought is mainly held by former GM Jim Duquette, who also thinks that the Royals should sign Kendry Morales, although he has been worse than Butler and would cost a draft pick. We can see why Duquette is not currently a member of a front office, since that move would make no sense at all.

Although that thought was expressed a month ago, the idea of trading Billy Butler has begun to pick up. Pete Dymeck at advocated such a move a couple of days ago, feeling that moving Butler could allow the Royals to bring in some needed pitching. However, there is a major problem with that thought. What pitcher, exactly, are the Royals going to get for Billy Butler?

This is not a knock on Butler. He has proven to be the consummate hitter. Even what was considered an off season for him last year was roughly the equivalent of what Morales produced last year. The problem is that Butler is considered to be a designated hitter. While he has improved defensively at first base over the past couple of seasons, Butler’s reputation defensively is such that he may only be considered by American League teams. Of those teams, how many would really be willing to spend that much money on a designated hitter?

Even if Butler was to be traded for pitching, that just serves to weaken the lineup to help the pitching staff. As much as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez are expected to improve this season, they are all still young players. What if their anticipated development does not turn out as anticipated? The Royals could end up in the exact same situation they were in last year, where the pitching staff has to carry a subpar offense.

Trading Billy Butler is not the answer to the Royals pitching issues. If they really want to unload salary to make a run at a starting pitcher, perhaps they could package Wade Davis with Emilio Bonifacio. Moving Butler just does not make sense.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Not sure that the meme that the Royals need to free money for an SP has any validity to it. If they get Santana for the price they want he’ll be back. If not they move on with the depth they already have.

    • Dave Hill

      Exactly Jim. Butler has nothing to do with that. Trying to make the correlation that Butler is somehow keeping them from upgrading the starting rotation is asinine. If Santana’s price has dropped enough, he’ll be back regardless.

      • jimfetterolf

        Length of contract may be most important. I think Dayton Moore might give him $16m for a one-year deal. Dutton’s suggested 3/40 would be my top and I’ld probably lie awake at night worrying about it and hoping he starts hot in ’15 so I could trade him.

        • cardsfanatik

          I agree, I love what Erv did last year, but I wouldn’t pencil it in for every year. I personally think it was a career year, and whoever signs him will be overpaying, or if lucky, just breaking even on the value side. I wouldn’t want to commit long years and big dollars to a pitcher with his consistency track record. Truth be told, a lot of Erv’s success last year, was pitching in Yellowstone National Park, with an excellent defense. Put him in Toronto, or Baltimore, and the A.L East or over in one of the smaller N.L. parks with a lesser defense, and his contract will probably not look quite so good to the signing team.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    I personally think trading Butler is a soild idea. Moore has been reported saying, a number of times too, that he wants to change the DH position to a slot where a player can take some time of on the defense side of the game, yet keeping their bat in the line up. This could help Cain stay healthy for a full year, keep Perez healthy from concussions and maybe knee sorness and some other players the time to help heal a little faster.

    Trading Butler isn’t going to give us a SP right now. He would be traded for pitching prospects that are close to coming up and maybe a couple infield prospects. The thing to keep in mind to though, Billy is making $8M this year and $12.5M next year. Would you rather use that money to maybe extending Shields or Hosmer? Hosmer needs to stay a Royal for a long time and we are already at the max of our budget and Hosmer is finally making over a million for the first time. Shields, I believe he’s already got one foot out the door, but if we lost Hosmer and kept Billy we set our franchise back easily 5 years. Keeping Billy, IMO, risks our chance of keeping Hosmer.

    • Jeremy Nichols

      A Billy Butler trade would absolutely be counterproductive, especially for this year. Since the royals are trying to contend this year, trading your top hitter for pitching prospects does not make sense. You weaken an already anaemic offense for prospects that are “close” to being ready but may not be able to contribute right away. Unless the royals can swing a trade for a #2 starter with at least 2 years of control or for a Wil Myers type prospect plus a pitching prospect. Then it’s a waist of time.

      And let’s be honest, signing Eric hosmer to a long term contract would be a moon shot. The royals do not make long term contracts or at least anything longer than five years. And Scott Boras is known for trying to push his clients into free agency. Unless Eric is certain he wants to stay, then I see him only being a royal for the next 4 years (arb.) or if they buy his arbitration years plus an extra year. I don’t see Boras letting hosmer go into free agency in his 30s either. Getting Hosmer into free agency at the age of 28 or 29 would maximize his value and certainly command a large contract if he keeps producing more and more.

      Letting hochaver go next year, trading wade Davis and perhaps Guthrie or Vargas might give us enough room to sign Shields long term… This would be a tough to do, how I wish the royals could have a payroll like the Yankees or dodgers.

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        And trading either Vargas or Guthrie and letting Hosmer walk just because of his agent isn’t counterproductive?

        Billy isn’t a god at the plate, so we should stop looking at him like he is. He is a good hitter, a below average fielder and runs as fast as a 2 year old. Butler was in the top 5 of slowest baseball players. He can’t see a slider that is low and away either.

        I think the Royals should have traded either Hoch or Davis before the year started to open up a little more pay roll, but instead we kept them and we are paying them quite well for being in the BP.

        This is how I’m looking at this whole picture. We obviously are going to have Butler when the year starts, but we need to trade him at the ASB. Trading him to BOS will most likely be what happens if they plan on losing Big Papi at the end of the year or a smaller park team for minor league pitchers that will be up in 2-3 years and maybe an out fielder that is almost ready. That way when we lose Shields and Zimmer comes up we have someone who is coming up shorty after Zimmer and if we lose Aoki we have someone to fill in at RF in a few short years.

        Keeping Butler and paying him $12.5M next year and then having to sign him longer or letting him walk is a crime. Hosmer needs to be the #1 focus. Just because his agent wants the most money possible doesn’t mean we just give up on extending him and let him go. That’s just idiotic and would be absolutely stupid by the Royals. Hosmer is a Golden Glove winner (and most likely will win another Golden Glove this year), the best first basemen in the AL — if not MLB, he has power, he can run and he’s young. Butler is a terrible 1B, slow, getting close to the danger age of 30 and does have power but isn’t they guy I want batting in a clutch situation. Like I said, Moore said he wants to change the DH position to a fielders break position. Do you really want Butler at 1B in the future? How is keeping Butler over Hosmer going to help the Royals in any way?

        • cardsfanatik

          Tyler, I agree with what your saying, but in a clutch, you should really check out BB’s numbers with RISP. I know he is slow as shit, and can’t field with a net, but he has gotten better at fielding, you can’t teach speed. But the guy is pretty solid with RISP. He does hit into entirely to many DP’s for me, but if I had to choose a Royal to put up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, I might just choose Butler. I don’t want to let Hosmer walk either, and would trade BB in a heartbeat to keep Hosmer, and the Royal’s FO probably feels the same way. I also don’t think extending Hosmer is a “moonshot”, but it won’t come at a discount, and it won’t be easy. Which is why DM needs to get off his ass and do it now. Why wait til salaries just keep going up? Its already going to take close to Freddie Freeman money, do it now. Hosmer shouldn’t cost quite as much as Freeman, because he hasn’t had the same numbers, but if he comes out and has a full season this year, like his last half of last year, look out $$$.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            The thing with me is looking at him other than his numbers. Watching him play was painful. He walked in situations where we needed him to hit the ball and if he didn’t hit the ball out of the park or on a line drive he hit the ball to the short stop or 2B. The left side of the field always got its work in when Billy came up to bat. It got to the point where we had to do hit and runs when Butler came up to bat and we had an out or no outs. I personally would take Hosmer or Gordon in that senario before I take Butler.

            Hosmer isn’t going to be cheap, which is why that $12.5M that Billy would get next year needs to go to Hosmer. If we keep Billy next year, I have a feeling we are looking at the last of Hosmer in a Royals jersey.

          • cardsfanatik

            I agree with you. I still think that BB is to valuable to not get what we want for him, but I do think that more salary attention needs to be paid to Hosmer before they worry to much about anything else. And yes, even with a high contract extension, that 12.5 million would likely pay Hosmer’s salary next season. To maximize BB’s value though, the best time to trade him might actually be the All-Star break, when a team is desperate for the hitter they are missing, or dealing with injuries, teams seem more willing to trade away talent they might not in the off-season at that time. Especially if BB rebounds to his more typical numbers. I’m not saying don’t trade him, but don’t pull a Beltran with him, and trade him for a John Buck and a bag of balls. I’m not sure if Glass ass realizes this or not, but if he actually spends the money, and gets to the post season, the revenue that will generate is going to off-set anything he has spent to this point in time, not to mention what it will do for the fanbase. Its been 3 decades, the Royal’s OWE IT to their fans.

  • cardsfanatik

    Good article Dave. I have been an advocate for trading BB in the past, but with the way the offense was horrific last year, I don’t think it would help us to do so. Now, if, and I say IF, they could get a true #2 pitcher, and then could sign Morales, it wouldn’t look as bad. I do prefer Butler to Morales, yes, but I still want a #2 pitcher. The problem with that scenario is, who is going to give the Royal’s a TRUE #2 pitcher for BB. And if they are going to go and do something like that, why not just re-up Erv? I think DM needs to tread a little lightly in the long contracts however, I would like to see a Shields and Hosmer extension before they spend all the money for the next 5 seasons. Now as Tyler says below, if I have to choose between BB and Hos, well thats a no brainer, BB’s got to go. But that doesn’t HAVE to be this season. In the end, the Royal’s opening day 2014 lineup is much stronger and deeper WITH Billy than without.