So there's that officially unofficial Buster Olney Twitterport that the Royals are willing to trade Billy Butler. That's home town favorite Billy Butler. Big Country Breakfast (not to be confused with Big Country Bryant Reeves). Belly Butler. Stereotypical joke about a fat guy.
Not Billy Butler...but possibly his brother.
I really don't think I've heard of anyone not liking Billy Butler. Easily one of the home town favorites, and a farm system product to boot. Despite the Royals love for him, and justifiably so, Dayton has said he's willing to trade anyone for the right price.
But where, oh where do we trade our beloved Billy to, and for what price?
We can break it down into two categories: need and performance. The first one is easy...what teams need a DH or possibly a first baseman (although a poor defense one). The second category is looking at stadiums he's performed best in.
To be honest... there aren't that many AL teams that need a DH. At least ones that aren't rebuilding or a few years away from honestly contending.
The Mariners traded for Kendrys Morales and his one year left. Morales provided them with .277/.336/.449 23 HR and a 116 wRC+. Despite having nearly 40 less points of OBP, Morales power fueled him to put up an even wRC+ mark as Butler.
The Mariners really don't have much in the way of offense due up soon in the system. Mike Zunino could be a possible DH if the club elects to give recently suspended and disappointing Jesus Montero (former can't miss #3 overall prospect) more time behind the plate. They could also go with an amalgamation of Montero/Zunino/Quintero, but Shoppach and Blanco are no longer Mariners so someone in that triumvirate is going to have to play 1B and DH more than likely with Justin Smoak.
Billy Butler's 127 wRC+ from 2010-2013 would make him the best qualified Mariners hitter in that time span by 20 runs, and his 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons would place him 1st (2012) 2nd (2010) 3rd (2011) and tied for 4th best wRC+ season by any Mariners player in that span.
So yeah... the Mariners could probably find room for Billy and afford him.
How would Billy look if he had always played at Safeco? Using BRefs Neutralized Batting feature, Billy's career line would be .292/.358/.451 115 HR. That's pretty dang close to his actual career line so we could expect around the same going forward despite the drudge in offense Safeco presents. (*note* Just the 2012 Mariners run scoring environment was used).
Possible trade pieces:
With Ackley, Miller, Franklin, and Romero all dancing around the middle infield, Miller and Romero are the two most expendable pieces. Personally I'd take Miller over all 3 of the others. Romero could be a good utility guy, but would just be a throw in or extra piece rather than the center.
Perhaps the Royals could buy low on Danny Hultzen, but he is one of their top prospects regardless and the injuries have always been concerning. Hultzen was one of the 3 college arms/4 overall pitchers that Dayton was targeting in 2011 before they all went off the board surprisingly.
The Mariners are pretty pitcher heavy still and outside of Walker/Hultzen/Paxton, everyone else is a potential reliever, #4/5, or years away.
The Orioles used the quintet of Danny Valencia, Steve Pierce, Chris Dickerson, Nolan Reimold, and about 80 other guys at DH this year. That rewarded them with one of the worst DH slots in the league with a .245/.293/.405 line good for an 87 wRC+ and .304 wOBA. That's... not good.
They are pretty set at 1B with Chris Davis there, but a team looking for an offensive boost would see a definite improvement with Butler.
Much like the Mariners, the Orioles farm is arm heavy with Christian Walker and Michael Ohlman being the only two higher end hitting prospect that could play 1B/DH and Ohlman could man the helm at catcher if the Orioles rid themselves of a struggling Matt Wieters to trade or free agency before/in 2016.
Butler certainly loves Camden Yards. In 23 games there he has hit .323/.376/.591 with 6 HR there and an adjusted career Camden line of .306/.372/.470
Like Hultzen, the Royals might be able to put together a good package for Dylan Bundy but I'd imagine his trade value is higher than Hultzen's even with Bundy undergoing Tommy John. In my opinion he's the best pitching prospect in all of baseball even after TJS.
Jonathan Schoop (pronounced "SCOPE") is a likely average to above average everyday second baseman, and if the Orioles resign Brian Roberts then Schoop could hit the market.
No team had a worse DH slot all of 2013 than the Yankees. Their crippled Frankenstein of A-Rod/Hafner/Francisco and some guy named Thomas Neal provided a .207/.309/.370. There are no typos in that DH triple slash. That's the worst DH batting average in 20 years and 2nd worst in 30 years. So there's some room for improvement.
The Yankees are pretty always in go for it mode and Butler has a career .311/.408/.492 in new Yankee Stadium. Baseball Reference thinks his power would play better there as it adjusts his 2012 line to .325/.385/.531 and 31 (!!!!!!!!!!) home runs.
Well...they have "prospects" in the sense that some guys in their organization could be good, are young, and were high draft picks, but very few in the sense of high talent (other than Gary Sanchez).
Outside of Gary Sanchez, I don't think I'd trade Butler for anyone in the Yankees system (barring Eric Jagielo or Ian Clarkin who aren't trade eligible yet).
A team who it always seems like never struggles for offense kinda struggled for offense against years past. Having 105 year old Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler never hurts of course. The Rangers used Lance Berkman and two made up players named Jim Adduci and Joey Butler (!!!) at DH this year.
That trio provided a .247/.343/.357 line with six, yes six, home runs on the year... that DOES includes 81 games at The
Homerun Park Ballpark in Arlington.
Billy has a career .313/.405/.384 line at Rangers Ballpark and Berkman is 10 years older than Butler with a $12M team option for 2014 and a $1M buyout.
By the way Billy has a .290/.370/.397 career line in all of Texas.
The Rangers could trade for Billy Butler, issue him Joey Butlers number, and not worry about all the fans who bought a Joey Butler Jersey/Shirsey. Win-Win.
The Rangers fortunately have a glut of middle infielders not only at the major league level, but spread out in the minors too. Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor both could play second and are fairly close to the majors. I'd prefer Odor over Sardinas.
Unlike some of the other teams listed, the Rangers are hitting heavy rather than pitching. Outside of Wilmer Font, most of their Top 1-7 guys are hitters rather, but most are years away like 3 true outcome super hero squad in Hickory with Gallo, Alfaro, and Beras.
Butler for Odor straight up? I'd have to guess Butler is worth more than that even given his lack of wheels and position preference.
Do we really wanna go down this road again?
Need Pt II: So you really, really, REALLY need a first baseman and don't care about defense?
Using 150 year old Todd Helton, Ryan Wheeler, and Jordan Pachenco, the Rockies 1B squad posted a .244/297/.374 line. That again is a .374 slugging with 81 games at Coors Field, but Coors isolated is .265/.315./435.
You've gotta imagine Todd Helton will die at some point, but probably not before Jason Giambi does. The Rockies had the second worst wRC+ in all of baseball first base squads.
Billy has only played 2 games at Coors field, but hey he's hitting .500/.500/.1000 after a double there! That's certainly sustainable.
Butler's adjusted career at Coors is .317/.384/.488 and his power certainly plays up in Colorado, but so does probably Chris Getz's as well.
There's little in the pipeline as far as first base-esque players in the Rockies system. Tim Wheeler looked liked future Todd Helton at one point but the power disappeared and he struggled as a 25 year old in AAA.
David Dahl would be a great get for the Royals and a possible buy low candidate due to his off field problems, attitude, and injuries.
Trevor Story looked like a corner stone 2B before 2013 and he's not staying at SS in the Rockies system with that Trey Tallowitski guy they have.
Seriously Gaby Sanchez is only 30. Don't know why but it seems like he's been around forever. Sanchez isn't a free agent until 2016, but the Pirates will lose Morneau to free agency and Garrett Jones isn't cutting it at first.
Sanchez is much better as a righty against lefties, but Butler is no slouch as a righty against his own handiness. Garrett Jones wasn't very good at all last year, but he was "better" against righties at a .241/.295/.435 clip.
Assuming Morneau goes to free agency, a platoon of Butler and Sanchez could be a viable alternative to the Morneau-less platoon they rolled out for most of the year.
We can just go ahead an rule out Taillon and Polance right now, but there are some other guys.
Alen Hanson is likely a future SS convert to second baseman and profiles as a front line guy.
Josh Bell could be a really good outfield power bat and that's certainly a position of depth in the majors and minors for the Pirates.
Tyler Glasnow had a completely unseen breakout year and Barrett Barnes is an athletic and strong outfielder who would eventually settle in nicely in RF if he can't stick in center.
Hey Dayton has a history with them!
Milwaukee rolled out the worst first base squad in all of baseball last year.
A team of Yuni Betancourt (!!!!!), Juan Francisco, Alex Gonzalez, Blake Lalli (?), and Sean Halton (????) produced a line of .211/.256./.359 thanks in part to of having to Frankenstein (yes I've used the reference twice) a platoon in lieu of Corey Hart and his poor knee. Hart is also a free agent this upcoming winter.
One of the weakest farm systems in the majors is rather pitcher heavy with Jungmann, Nelson, and Hellweg making up the Top-3 and none of those guys stand out as center pieces.
Although I would accept Billy Butler for Ryan Braun straight up if the Brewers want to get rid of that guy.
Okay so they have Adam LaRoche, and he's expensive... but he's also 34 and kinda declining. But he let's say they decide to platoon him with Butler.
Butler has a career .314/.394/.527 against lefties and LaRoache has a .271/.349/.488 against righties. That's something right? No? I'm reaching here? Okay.
This is easy. Here we'll just look at places Billy has performed admirably in his career.
.333/.375/.498 career line in Comerica. Easily his best park.
They do have an aging and somewhat injury prone at DH right now in Victor Martinez so that's something right?
.307/.359/.450 career line at Target Field. The Twins are likely 2-3 years away from really competing, but they've traded away Morneau, Ryan Doumit is Ryan Doumit, Willingham will probably still play some OF and likely gone once Buxton/Hicks/Arcia arise fully, and Chris Parmlee likely isn't long for the major leagues.
Trade us for Eddie Rosario please.
.330/.420/.577 at Angel Stadium. Billy's power seems to play up here. They do have Pujols and Hamilton costing them $800,000,000,000 so that could be a problem... also CJ Cron and Kaleb Cowart exist.
Fun fact: Billy has more singles, doubles, and a higher batting average from 2009-2012 than Albert Pujols. So that's something.
Who cares about Howie Kendrick. Let's get Taylor Lindsey.
.300/.381/.480 and 30% of his hits there go for the extra base variety.
Middlebrooks could seemingly move across the diamond if the Red Sox still believe in him.
Let's go ahead and rule out Xander Bogaerts and likely Jackie Bradley, but would one of their 3 of Webster/Owens/Barnes be a good return? Certainly.
I love Garin Cecchini, who will be better than his hyped brother Gavin, despite being about 130 picks later in the draft. Cech could overtake Moose at 3B or his bat could play in the outfield as well.
There you have some candidates. Some more likely than the others.
Billy should still get a good return. He's kinda inexpensive for 2014 as he's not making the DH money Berkman/Martinez/Dunn/Ortiz/Pujols are making, but he isn't making peanuts like Brandon Moss or super surplus value like Carlos Santana.
And if you think he can play first base then he's pretty far down that salary list even when he reaches $12M in 2015.
Also Billy will be 28, in his theoretical l peak years, amassed a career .298/.364/.459 120 wRC+, and Steamer projects him to have a .299/.376/.476 132 wRC+ season next year. That would likely put him as the second or third best full time DH next year, and if you want him to play first his .368 wOBA projection would put him in the Top-10 of all first basemen.
There's some depth in the 1B/DH free agent market this year with Napoli, Hart, Morneau, and Morales all due up, bt only Napoli is likely to receive a qualifying offer so the other three could come at good value to the bidder.
Is Billy worth a Grade-A prospect by himself? Probably not, but a team desperate for him may over pay. He's certainly a Grade-B level prospect worthy guy if not possibly two B-Level players. The Royals also have bullpen depth to deal from that they could couple with Big Country Breakfast to up the ante.
If this year was the final year of Billy in Royal blue then I'll surely be sad to see him go, but the potential return for him could be valuable, and as Dayton has said, anyone is on the table (rightfully so) if a trade adds value to the team.