Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Do you want Billy Butler?

So word got around yesterday that Kansas City's Billy Butler may be available, as the Royals would like to free up money to acquire pitching.

Buster Olney mentioned Houston as a possibility, due to their "desperate need for credible hitters." I saw the note yesterday, and didn't think much of it, but now I guess it's something we can at least entertain for a morning.

Butler will be 28 next April, and was the Royals' 1st Round pick in 2004 (14th overall). He is owed $8m in 2014 with a $12.5m team option for 2015, or a $1m buyout. He's durable, having played in at least 158 games from 2009-2013, mainly because 150 of his appearances in 2013 came at DH.

Now, Houston does need more hitters, that's true. Butler is a career .298/.364/.459 hitter, but in 2013 posted his lowest OPS since 2008, his second season in the Majors, hitting .289/.374/.412 with 15 homers, 102 strikeouts, and 79 walks. He also grounded into 28 double plays, but that's perhaps not as important. Do the Astros need a hitter like that on the team? Sure, but do they need a guy who is basically limited to the DH spot where, ideally, Chris Carter can rotate in and out? Butler provided 1.4 WAR in 2013 (FanGraphs version), and his defense was rated at -16.1, so yeah, he's going to need to DH.

If it's pitching the Royals are looking for, the Astros (in theory, at least) have it. But it's the age-old question: Who would you give up for a DH-only hitter that forces Chris Carter into the outfield (presuming Singleton is ML-ready in 2014)? Would you make a deal for 2012 Billy Butler, who posted a 2.9 WAR and an .883 OPS? He's not great at baserunning, and bad at defense. But the numbers indicate that maybe Butler had a bad 2013 - and the Astros might try to capitalize on it, depending on what the Royals want in return.

Further reading: Billy Butler's Country Breakfast Doesn't Satisfy (FanGraphs), 
Royals Willing To Deal Butler? (Kansas City Star)


Walter Wright said...

Why would the Astros want two Chris Carters ... especially one that can't get in front of a fly ball?

Anonymous said...

let's trade for Jon Jay... Cards might re-sign Beltran and bring up Taveras... what would Jay cost in prospects?

Anonymous said...

Butler's OBP would be the thing I think that would catch Luhnows eye. A good average with a good walk rate and so so power isn't bad at all...until you look at his price tag and position. I think I'd rather keep our prospects.

John Jay would make a ton of sense if he's cheap enough! I friggin love watching that guy play! If we wouldn't have to give up any big pieces, I'd be all over that trade

CLOrnelas said...

Butler brings stability and relative consistency that far outweighs his weaknesses. It seems like Singleton can't be worse in LF than Chris Carter, younger legs. If all they want is Wojo or other upper level low ceiling guys, I'm down.

OremLK said...

I don't think we should presume anything about Singleton at this point. He might be ready at midseason. Or he might be a September callup. Or he might not make it up until 2015. Or he could continue to suck it up at AAA and prove to be a total bust.

Butler's contract ends after next season, so he shouldn't be a real impediment to Singleton either way. Worst case he forces Singleton to wait until September--not the end of the world for a 22 year old guy at AAA.

I'd guess if you added Butler you'd slide Carter over to play first base full time. It doesn't sound like a bad idea to boost the offensive production of the team. God knows we need a legit middle of the order bat, and if Butler returns to his career averages, he'd be pretty solid in that role.

Anonymous said...

His down year would have led our team in BA. His 102 stikeouts actually make him an elite hitter in our realm.
What would be really great is if he could force Carter into the outfield, FOR SOME OTHER TEAM!
Again, the DH's for the Astros this year hit .197 and had 200 strikeouts and an obp under .300. Do you think Butler would be an improvement? 1oldpro

Anonymous said...

Billy Butler? Don't they have plenty of one-dimensional players already?

Anonymous said...

I personally like Billy Butler. Solid player. He'd certainly add some stability to the lineup But I just don't see any chance of acquiring him w/o giving up something we'd later regret. Love the guy, but pass..

Larry Luttrell said...

Yea, I was just talking about this story yesterday that the Astros should get Billy Butler. Trade Chris Carter, & a player to be named later.

Anonymous said...

Sure, why not? It would mark the end of brett wallace, and I'm all for that.

Anonymous said...

Still a little surprised that some people seem to think of Chris Carter as part of the picture going forward. He finally got that everyday job and confirmed exactly who he is - tons of Ks, some HRs and poor defense. Just because the team gave Brett Wallace 2000+ at bats doesn't mean they have to make the same mistake with Carter.