Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes that if the Royals are successful in luring free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran back to Kansas City, it would open the door for them to trade first baseman and designated hitter Billy Butler.
Last month, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Royals were quietly shopping their righthanded slugger.
Butler, 27, has $8 million owed to him for 2014, with a $12.5 million team option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout.
The right-handed hitting slugger is coming off a down season for him, batting .289/.374/.412 with 15 home runs, 27 doubles, 82 RBI and 79 walks.
The former 2004 first-rounder (14th overall) had his best season in 2012 when he banged out 29 homers, 32 doubles and 107 RBIs while slashing at a .313/.373/.543 clip.
He is one of the most durable players in the game appearing in all 162 contests for the Royals this season and averaging 160 games over the last five seasons.
Butler was forced to move to designated hitter once highly regarded Eric Hosmer was promoted. Hosmer’s excellent defense was as good as advertised and he won his first gold glove this year. Butler, however, wants the opportunity to return to the field and some believe his new role as a DH affected his numbers this season.
In Kansas City, he is known as “Country Breakfast” and he’s become a fan favorite. Even in a down season, Butler posted numbers that far surpassed anything a Mets first baseman put on the board. And it’s not like Lucas Duda is twinkle toes on defense.
The Royals were a little reluctant to move Butler, their biggest right-handed threat, but the addition of Beltran could change that and Rosenthal says there are plenty of teams that covet Butler.