Billy Butler, who has spent his entire 8-year big league career with the Kansas City Royals, has signed a 3-year, $30 million contract with the Oakland A’s.
Although Butler got his first taste of post-season baseball, 2014 was statistically a low point of Butler’s career. Although he hit a respectable .271 he slugged only 9 HR and 66 RBI. In 2012, Butler had a career year batting .313 with 29 HR and 107 RBI. Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated questions the wisdom of the deal:
Almost every indicator you can find for Butler is a negative one. He hasn’t even had any notable success in Oakland’s O.co Coliseum over his career, hitting a pedestrian .252/.354/.405 in 130 plate appearances in what is another offense-suppressing ballpark. Unless someone on the Athletics’ coaching staff thinks they detected something in Butler’s swing or approach that they believe to be an easy fix, it’s difficult to figure out just why the A’s thought he was worth $10 million a year on a team that will also have Brandon Moss, who is coming off hip surgery, in need of DH at-bats at least early on in 2015.
I am not so inclined to write off Butler so quickly. First, he is 28 and thus has a little youth on his side. Second, it’s not like he’s hitting .230. Butler is a .295 career hitter and if he can hit closer to that number he’ll do just fine in Oakland. Third, I do agree his power numbers will probably suffer hitting in O.co, but that could be offset with a lot of doubles. Remember doubles drive in runs too.
While Butler certainly does not make up for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes, I suspect the A’s will be adding more offense before the off-season is done.
UPDATE: Lo and behold, this story was broken by two teenagers who scooped the MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal. To his credit, Rosenthal was more than happy to let these kids have the spotlight. H/T Jason Epstein at NRO.