The Kansas City Royals traded AAA infielder Ryan Jackson to the Angels in return for catcher Drew Butera on Thursday. The KC Royals moved pitcher Tim Collins, who had Tommy John surgery this spring, off the 40-man roster and onto the 60-day disabled list to make room for Butera.
The 31-year-old Butera is an offensively-challenged, career backup catcher. Drew Butera‘s career slash line is a pathetic .183/.238/.266 over six major-league seasons with the Twins, Dodgers, and Angels.
Drew Butera is actually pretty good at pitch framing, which recent sabermetric studies have shown is the ability of a catcher to “steal” extra strikes for their pitcher.
Butera ranked 24th among catchers last season by obtaining 32.7 “extra” strikes according to Baseball Prospectus’ pitch framing metrics. That’s pretty good for a counting stat, given that Drew Butera only appeared in 61 games for the Dodgers last season.
He also has thrown out 32% of base stealing attempts against him over his career, which is 5% better than major-league average.
Major-league teams can freely option players back to the minor leagues their first three seasons. As a six-year major league veteran, Drew Butera is out of minor league options and presumably will be immediately added to the KC Royals roster.
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So much for the Francisco Pena era. In fact, trading for Butera pretty much tells us that the Kansas City Royals front office thinks that Pena is organizational filler rather than a guy with a major-league future. Dayton Moore doesn’t even want to play Pena in a backup role over the two weeks that he expects Erik Kratz to miss.
The KC Royals dealt 27-year-old middle infielder Ryan Jackson, who was hitting .305/.379/.407 at AAA Omaha. The Kansas City Royals acquired Jackson this winter as a minor-league free agent from the Dodgers. He has had two brief call-ups in his career, in 2012 and 2013 with the Cardinals that totaled 25 plate appearances.
I wouldn’t expect Drew Butera to get much playing time as the Kansas City Royals backup catcher. Given Butera’s terrible career performance at the plate, look for iron-man catcher Salvador Perez to get every start until Erik Kratz returns from the disabled list.
So much for getting Salvador Perez some rest.
The bottom line is that Drew Butera is a temporary acquisition whose Kansas City Royals career might last all of two weeks. I fully expect the team to discard him once Erik Kratz returns.