Former KC Royals designated hitter Billy Butler signed a contract with the New York Yankees. Butler fills a need as a right handed bat for the Yankees playoff push.
Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball tweeted the news Wednesday night:
The Oakland’s A’s released Butler despite more than $11.22 million remaining on the three-year, $30 million contract he signed before the 2015 season. Butler slashed a mere .258/.325/.394 in two seasons with Oakland after hitting .295/.359/.449 with the Kansas City Royals between 2007-14. Butler was hitting .276/.331/.403 with 16 doubles and 4 home runs with the A’s when they released him four days ago.
The Yankees signed Butler after rookie Austin Judge suffered a grade 2 oblique (side) strain, forcing New York to put him on the 15-day disabled list. The Yankees do not expect the top prospect to return before the end of the regular season. But, Judge might be available if the Yankees make the post-season.
Butler now gets a chance to rebuild some value if he can put up a good run for the Bombers. The Yankees will face lefty starters in seven of their next 11 games. That schedule will give Butler an ample opportunity to make his mark. However, Butler has slashed a mere .262/.316/.369 against lefties this season.
Billy Butler faced widespread criticism as a “me first” type of player after his clubhouse battle with Danny Valencia earlier this season. Butler suffered a concussion when A’s teammate Valencia hit him in August, causing him to miss multiple games. However, the A’s ended up releasing Butler while keeping Valencia.
A’s general manager David Frost told SFGate.com:
"“Obviously, he didn’t perform last year up to what we expected and coming into this year, it was tough for him to get going,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “We made some moves that took away some of his opportunities. … He obviously still has the ability. It just wasn’t going to be a fit here."
Even if the Yankees make the post-season, Butler will not be eligible to appear on a playoff roster since he joined the organization after August 31. Yet, he can enhance his value this winter if he can help push the Yankees into the post-season.
New York trails the Toronto Blue Jays by 2.0 games for the AL’s second wild card. They also can make a run at the AL East title since they are only 4.0 games behind Boston. However, the Yankees will have to overtake both the Jays and Orioles (3.0 games) as well as the Red Sox to win the division.
While “Country Breakfast” was a fan favorite with the KC Royals, don’t expect to see Butler return to KC in 2017. Even though Kendrys Morales‘ contract expires at the end of the season, Butler isn’t a Dayton Moore kind of guy.