Responding to a Possible Billy Butler Trade Scenario
By David Hill
Aug 17, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a solo home run during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Recently, our sister site Jays Journal put up a post about the possibility of a three team trade between the Blue Jays, Pirates and the Royals. With there being speculation that Billy Butler could be traded from the Royals, and with the Blue Jays being one of the potential destinations, it makes sense to look into such a possibility. Despite Justin’s expectations that I will just ridicule him mercilessly, I will look at this scenario rationally.
The main problem with such a trade is that, while Butler, a fourth outfielder and possibly a reliever being traded make sense, what do either team really have that could benefit the Royals? With the signing of Omar Infante, the Royals biggest needs right now are a power bat in the middle of the lineup and a legitimate second starter. Could either need really be filled by either team?
Theoretically, the Blue Jays have Jose Bautista on the block, who would instantly provide the type of power hitter that the Royals are seemingly looking for. Locked up for the next three seasons at $14 Million per, he would be a cost efficient power hitter for the middle of the lineup. Bautista has also been a solid right fielder, with one of the better arms in the American League. Such an acquisition would likely make Lorenzo Cain a fourth outfielder, if he was not included in the trade. But why would the Blue Jays move Bautista?
Another possible fit for the Royals could be Edwin Encarnacion. Depending on how the Royals feel about the progress, or lack thereof, of Mike Moustakas, they could consider trading for a power hitting third baseman. However, like Baustita, Encarnacion is signed for three more years, only he costs a total of $29 Million over that time, should the third year option be picked up. While neither player would be likely to hit 40 home runs in Kauffman Stadium, they would likely hit over 30, and could actually push Steve Balboni for the Royals single season home run record. But, again, why would the Blue Jays move such an asset? Then there is the Royals need for a third starter. Quite simply, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ are not that.
Looking at the Pirates, they simply do not have the type of pieces on offense that the Royals would need. Don’t even mention Andrew McCutchen as a possibility, because Pirates fans would likely storm the front office and burn Neal Huntington in effigy. In terms of pitching, would a year of Francisco Liriano be worth giving up Butler? It certainly does not seem so.
While the idea of trading Billy Butler as part of a three team trade would be a benefit for the Blue Jays, short of Jose Bautista returning to Kansas City, there just does not seem to be a fit. It is certainly a great idea for Toronto, but there is almost nothing there to entice the Royals into trading Butler to the Blue Jays.