At this point, the relationship between Billy Butler and the Royals seems like that of a married couple that know things are about to end. There is an awkwardness to the relationship where both sides know that the end is coming, but are still tied to one another for now.
Unlike the example above, the Royals and Butler know exactly when the relationship is going to break apart – whenever the Royals season ends. Even though Butler has a $12.5 Million team option for 2015, it is difficult to see the Royals doing anything more than picking up the tab on the $1 Million buyout and wishing Butler well as he heads out the door for the final time.
Perhaps that impending free agency is wearing on Billy Butler. This season, he has produced at a very un-Butler-esque .266/.321/.342 rate with two home runs. That production, or lack thereof, has seen Butler get moved down to the seventh spot in the lineup. It will also factor into what butler can get on the open market, as few teams are willing to spend large quantities on a player who is considered strictly a designated hitter, unless they can produce like David Ortiz or Nelson Cruz.
For now, however, both the Royals and Butler have a mutual need together. The Royals need Butler to start producing like the hitter he has been in the past in order to make a true run at the playoffs. Butler needs a strong second half of the season in order to position himself well on the open market. This relationship, which will be breaking apart in a few short months, is truly symbiotic at this point.
Billy Butler has certainly performed better of late, hitting at a .288/.346/.390 rate since June 1st. Even though he only has one home run in that time frame, he has not looked entirely lost at the plate as he did during the early part of the season. There is hope that something resembling power could come around for the second half, as Butler has been making better contact.
The Royals, and Butler, both have to hope that is the case. A surge in performance helps both Butler and the Royals achieve their goals, either this season or next. And who knows – maybe if Butler begins to produce and the Royals make the postseason on the strength of his hitting, they could look to stay together.
The end may be coming soon, but for now, Billy Butler and the Royals need one another.