Billy Butler is gone.
It seems as though you, as a fan, have three options to spur you through the squalid junket of this cold, new Country Breakfast-less reality.
A.) Say he was never good and bloviate about how glad you are that that chubby bum is gone
B.) Somberly tip your cap to him in appreciation as he boards the plane to Oakland
C.) Troll the FaceBook users that chose Option A and claim Butler was a Hall of Famer (This one is the most fun)
I suppose you could also say there aren't enough options on the list and spend your time thinking about that. Sounds like an interesting conversation -- so if you'd like to run with that, by all means, go for it.
In any event, Butler is gone and the Royals need to come up with a plan to replace him. There have been a lot of ideas thrown around about a rotation at DH that would allow currently rostered players regular days off, some conjecture about signing journeybro Mike Morse as a free agent, and quite a few musings on the prospect of adding "clubhouse character" actor/homophobe Torii Hunter.
Other ideas from Royals Review writers have also been put forward over the last few days, including: a pursuit of Evan Gattis, getting Salvador Perez more off days, looking into Chris Denorfia or Mike Morse, and a shadow DH platoon of Jonny Gomes and Allen Craig -- although that last one was more about Old Man Duggan getting to cosplay as Dayton Moore.
In addition to Hunter and Morse, a few unfortunate names have made their way into the conversation -- guys like Ryan Howard, Nick Markakis, Andre Ethier, and Carlos Peguero.
There are a lot of names there ... but not nearly enough since we have no actual baseball games to distract us from wandering imaginations. So here are even more names to discuss ad naseum until the issue is resolved.
Davis had an awful 2014. He languished below the Mendoza line for the better part of the second half as he struggled to adjust to more offspeed pitches and a greater number of defensive shifts. Also, he was suspended 50 games for abusing Adderall. Drug abuse is a serious issue, but to be clear, Davis was not suspended for the use of steroids. Adderall is an amphetamine that Davis was likely using to stay energized over the course of a long season. That's not an excuse by any means, but it does have some effect on how the numbers he put up prior to the suspension might be viewed.
That's old news, of course, but it could make him easier to acquire than if he had not been suspended. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $11.8 million through arbitration in 2015. That could also lighten the return in a potential trade. Finally, Davis is a free agent after the season. If you add all that up, you get a genuine buy-low candidate -- or at lsat I think you do. My SBN-issued trade abacus might be a little out of date.
Of course, if every team sees him as a buy-low candidate, the Orioles won't have to consider taking a significantly mitigated return in a potential trade, but that doesn't appear to be the case at the moment. They are rumored to have placed him on the trade block. SB Nation's Orioles affiliate even published a story on whether or not the O's should simply non-tender the 28-year-old.
If the Royals traded for Davis, and if they could do it by giving up a no more than a mid-tier prospect -- someone with a somewhat limited upside like Christian Binford or Christian Colon or a high-upside wild card like Elier Hernandez -- the Royals might have to consider it. After all, if one year of Jason Heyward is only worth Shelby Miller and a minor league wild card, what can the O's honestly expect to get for Davis after his atrocious 2014 season and the suspension that almost altruistically cut it short?
Davis' BABIP was nearly 80 points below his career average last season. Some of that had to do with his failure to properly adjust to defensive shifts, but assuming he regresses to the mean is probably pretty reasonable. Even if he was only able to climb back up to the .225 range in terms of batting average, he could put together a decent .225/.325/.450-ish batting line. And there's always the chance that the league-mandated vacation time he received in 2014 could be just what he needed to bounce back to his former All-Star form. If he did that, the Royals could then extend him the qualifying offer after the season and pick up a prospect to recoup their losses.
$11.8 million and a mid-tier prospect would be a lot to give up for the risk Davis presents, but the upside is astronomical, and even if Davis struggled in 2015, he'd probably still lead the team in homers -- which would be great, if you're into that sort of thing. He could also stand in at first to give Eric Hosmer a break from diving around in the dirt at the cold corner.
It'd be a lot of fun to watch him crush homers over the Little K, but the chances of the Royals acquiring Chris Davis at a reasonable cost are slim to none.
The Original MLB Yasmani. Source- Jeff Gross, Getty Images
Grandal was drafted by the Reds eight picks after the Royals selected Christian Colon in the 2010 amateur draft. Then he was traded to San Diego in the deal that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati before the 2012 season. In three seasons with the Padres he's managed just 777 MLB plate appearances, partially due to an ACL/MCL injury that resulted in surgery during the 2013 season. In his injury-puctuated tours with the Pads, he has slashed .245/.350/.412 with 24 homers, 94 runs batted in, and a 172-107 strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, he's not an asset defensively at catcher or first base, but he could fill in at either spot to give everyday players a day of rest.
Since he's not a good defender and the Padres are grooming Austin Hedges to be their long-term solution at catcher, Grandal might be a decent fit as a designated hitter. He's a switch-hitter with a decent split -- although he's much better from the left side -- and he doesn't qualify for arbitration until 2016.
Grandal's flaws -- and his replacement -- are apparent in San Diego, but he might be worth a look for Kansas City as a somewhat versatile DH if they can get him without giving up top ten talent from the farm system.
John Jaso, Brandon Moss, or Kyle Blanks
Unsurprisingly -- after the A's acquired yet another first baseman in Ike Davis -- John Jaso's name popped up in an article by SFGate's Susan Slugger on Sunday night. It's tempting to see Jaso as the perfect fit in Kansas City since he and Derek Norris formed an extremely effective DH-Catcher tandem in Oakland last year. Maybe he could be since he'd be able to fill in behind the plate occasionally. Much more occasionally than he did in Oakland last year for two reasons. One, Perez is going to play a lot. The organizational approach appears to be focused on an effort to maximize the surplus value he provides them through his contract by squeezing the life out of him entirely during it's duration. And the second reason Jaso wouldn't catch much if he ended up in Kansas City is simple, he's not good at it.
What Jaso is good at is hitting right-handed pitching and getting on base. He doesn't hit for much power, but he has a career on-base percentage of .359. If the Royals added him, he'd probably be looking at between 300 and 350 plate appearances -- most of which would come as a designated hitter. However, since he is painfully useless against lefties -- he has a career .169/.289/.221 line against them in just 207 plate appearances -- someone with a vs. LHP batting line that can be uttered in front of children would need to be on the roster as well.
With Butler and Ike Davis in the fold, Moss could become trade bait. In the past, I'd be worried about Dayton Moore going anywhere near Billy Beane with the intention of discussing a potential trade, but Beane has made some genuinely questionable moves of his own recently -- like the Butler deal, and especially, his decision to trade Addison Russell for 17 months of Jeff Samardzija. Moore would probably still be overmatched though, and Moss would probably command too much in a potential deal.
Side note: If Moss' homers in the Wild Card game had won the game for the A's, he wouldn't be on this list.
Additionally, the Athletics might not be ready to give up on Blanks yet since he hit .298/402/.635 in 2014 -- albeit, in the PCL. If the Royals could get Blanks for something marginal, he might be worth a chance. He's still cheap, just 28, and he could be a late bloomer.
Scott Van Slyke
Source- Chris Humphreys, USA TODAY Sports
Seems like he's a really popular trade target, and it's easy to see why. How in the hell does this guy not have an everyday job right now?
You might have his career line of .268/.362/.530 against lefties memorized by now for as often as it's mentioned in trade speculation, but he also has a respectable .254/.333/.421 line against same-siders. There's not really enough data to tell -- and advanced defensive data are spasmodic -- but at the very least, he doesn't appear to be the worst outfielder of all time. He might even be kind of good in the outfield. Of course, in Kansas City, kind of good is tantamount to terrible because of the high bar set by Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson.
Van Slyke is also very cheap. Thanks to being buried in the Dodgers' farm system and the bench role he held in the majors, he won't hit arbitration until 2016. He's 28, which isn't ideal, but it doesn't mean he can't be productive over the next three or four years.
It's hard to tell how much the Dodgers would want for him. He already has shown he can hit several times over in the minors and he was worth 2.8 fWAR in just 246 plate appearances in the majors in 2014 -- but he's also benefited from hitter-friendly leagues in the minors and has earned a reputation for being somewhat insufferable. However, his 2.8 fWAR was more than Melky Cabrera, Andrelton Simmons, David Ortiz, Brandon Moss, and a bunch of other guys that logged more than twice as many plate appearances.
It's kind of amazing that teams aren't scrambling over each other to give him a chance to prove himself in an everyday role. He can hit, he won't make any real money for several years, and his dad is a former All-Star. He also happens to be part of a notoriously crowded outfield that will only get more populous with Joc Pederson having already proved he is ready for a look in the majors. Pederson's numbers are almost as good as Van Slyke's were in the minors ... almost.
Van Slyke should absolutely be given a chance to play everyday -- or at least hit everyday. Maybe he should be given that chance by Dayton Moore.
Some of the other suggestions in this article might be a stretch, but acquiring Van Slyke probably wouldn't cost the Royals that much -- in terms of both prospects and dollars -- and he has shown his bat is for real.