Lately, Billy Butler‘s name has been circulating in trade rumors. Most notably, the Seattle Mariners are reported to have interest in the Royals designated hitter, even though any possible discussions are likely only in the beginning stages. Even if Butler is not traded, with his $12.5 Million option for next year, it is highly unlikely that he remains in Kansas City next season.
However, if the decision to return was up to Butler, he would not be going anywhere. Despite his struggles this season, Butler is hoping that the Royals pick up his team option for 2015, and if they are not interested in doing so, Butler would be willing to sign an extension at a lower cost to remain in Kansas City.
“I’ve been in the organization for 10 years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Butler said. “I’d like stay here and win something. It’s not my decision.”
While it would be great to see a home grown player such as Billy Butler actually remain with the Royals, there is still a matter of trying to determine how, exactly, he would fit with the Royals. Ned Yost has been quoted as saying that he envisions the designated hitter role becoming a revolving position in the future, especially as they Royals look to keep Salvador Perez‘s bat in the lineup while giving him a day off behind the plate. Eric Hosmer is a Gold Glove first baseman, and while Butler is not as bad defensively as his reputation would lead one to believe, he is not about to supplant Hosmer in the lineup.
If the Royals do want to bring Butler back, they would likely be able to get that discount that he mentioned. Instead of being the Butler of the past five years, he has struggled for most of the season, hitting at a .272/.324/.354 rate with only three home runs. His OPS+ of 87 would be the lowest of his career. Even the fans have seemingly turned against him, so the Royals would not have the theoretical explanation that they are retaining a fan favorite.
As much as Billy Butler may want to remain with the Royals, it is difficult to envision a scenario where he returns. With the Royals plans to no longer have a consistent designated hitter, and the need to reinvest that salary into other positions, Butler would be a luxury that the Royals may not be able to afford.
Of course, if Billy Butler can locate some semblance of a power stroke and get back to hitting the way he had over the past five years, then the Royals may find a way to keep him in the fold. Otherwise, despite how much Butler would want to return, it is difficult to imagine him back with the Royals next year.