Billy Butler Rumors
The Royals are ready to listen on offers for Billy Butler this winter, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter). The designated hitter/first baseman is owed $8MM in 2014, and the Royals hold a $12.5MM club option with a $1MM on Butler for the 2015 season.
Butler, 27, hit .289/.374/.412 with 15 homers this season and played in all 162 games. It was a step back from what the Royals were used to seeing from the slugger - he had a career .300/.362/.468 slash line heading into 2013 and belted a career-high 29 homers in 2012.
Kansas City could find a limited market for Butler this offseason as he is probably better suited for the American League and has a good amount of money left on his deal over the next two years. The slugger known as Country Breakfast drew interest from the Mariners and Orioles last winter.
Yesterday there was quite a bit of speculation regarding interest from both the Orioles and Mariners in Billy Butler. We'll keep track of any new rumors regarding Country Breakfast right here, with the latest info on top...
- Although he cautions that the Royals aren't actively looking to move Wil Myers, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets that Kansas City is "definitely" more open to the idea of moving Myers than Butler.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick spoke with two sources familiar with the talks that told him speculation about a possible Butler-to-Seattle deal is "significantly overblown" (Twitter link).
9:32pm: Royals officials "seemed to characterize Seattle as a fall-back option," writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, because Kansas City seeks a difference-maker rather than unproven prospects. Dutton suggests the Orioles are "an even tougher match."
5:47pm: The Mariners and Royals have had recent talks on Butler, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
12:17pm: Although a report last week suggested that Billy Butler was close to untouchable, that hasn't stopped teams from showing interest in the Royals slugger. According to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter), the Mariners and Orioles are showing "strong interest" in Butler.
We had previously heard about both teams' interest in Butler, with the Mariners in particular said to be "coveting" the 26-year-old. Dutton views the M's as a more logical fit for the Royals than the Orioles, given the young pitchers Seattle could offer in a deal.
The most fun week of baseball's offseason is here, as 2012's Winter Meetings get underway in Nashville. With a ton of activity expected over the next few days, we don't want to let anything fall through the cracks, so let's round up a few Monday morning updates from around MLB:
- 18-year-old Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani, who announced in October that he intended to sign with an MLB team, may now be leaning toward staying in Japan, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), who cites reports out of Japan. A decision from Otani is expected this week, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- If the Braves make a move this week, it's more likely to be a trade than a signing, says Mark Bowman of MLB.com, who tweets that Atlanta has "minimal interest" in the outfielders on the free agent market. The team's interest in free agents could increase if asking prices drop, but that's not likely to happen this early in the offseason, tweets Bowman. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more details on the Braves' search for a left fielder.
- The Rays' agreement with James Loney makes them an unlikely fit for Eric Hosmer or Billy Butler now, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. If the Royals were to pursue a Rays pitcher via trade, Kansas City may have to offer Wil Myers, Dutton adds.
- Given the weak third base market, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports thinks the Padres may be motivated to sell high on Chase Headley and send him to the Yankees (Twitter link).
- Coming off an injury-shortened 2012 season, Chien-Ming Wang may not sign with an MLB team until midseason, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com (Twitter link).
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer thinks the Reds will make a run at Dexter Fowler, but doesn't expect the team to give up Homer Bailey to make it happen.
- The Dodgers may have a tricky time targeting an outfielder, since they need a starting-caliber player but can't promise a starting job, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
- If the Indians decide to go all-in on their rebuild, they could extract young pitching talent from a team like the Mariners or Diamondbacks, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link). Cleveland's asking price for Asdrubal Cabrera is "steep in terms of young pitchers," according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Jim Bowden has identified a trade candidate for all 30 MLB teams, along with potential suitors for each player.
- After a quiet Winter Meetings in 2011, the Red Sox figure to be more active this year, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, as he explores a few of the team's potential targets.
The Royals have talked to the Mets about R.A. Dickey as they continue to search for a top-of-the-rotation starter, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reported this week that the Royals have had discussions about trading Wil Myers for Jon Lester or James Shields.
The Royals aren’t looking to trade Myers and have no interest in moving Salvador Perez, Heyman writes. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are close to untouchable and the Royals aren’t inclined to trading Alcides Escobar, either. Instead, the Royals would prefer to send the Mets younger prospects in a deal for Dickey.
"Our rotation is going to better, but we're still looking for the opportunity to improve on what we've done,'' Royals GM Dayton Moore told Heyman.
The Mets have explored the possibility of a contract extension with Dickey, who will earn $5MM in 2013 before hitting free agency. If they trade the knuckleballer, they’d prefer a catcher and outfield help.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald that he was unsure if he'd be able to acquire Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis) in 2007. “A lot of clubs were involved and I didn’t think it was going to work for us for where we were financially,” said Dombrowski. “Once we sat down with the Marlins, it took us just a day to work out that deal. It happened very fast.”
Here are Silverman's rumors...
- The Dodgers are the favorite to sign Zack Greinke according to an insider. Both the Angels and Rangers are said to be "on the outside looking in."
- The Royals are listening to offers for Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and even Wil Myers. The Rays, meanwhile, are listening on James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson.
- Despite their pending blockbuster, keep an eye on the Blue Jays and the pitching market. Silverman suggests that Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson could be in play for Toronto.
- The Blue Jays are shopping their three catchers (John Buck, J.P. Arencibia, and Travis d'Arnaud) but are leaning towards Arencibia or d'Arnaud.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Royals GM Dayton Moore is "feeling the heat," in the sense that many want the team to use their prospect base to acquire veterans who can help them win now like the Blue Jays did with their recent blockbuster. Here's more from Rosenthal on Kansas City...
- Even after acquiring Ervin Santana, the Royals can still fit a free agent like Jeremy Guthrie into their payroll on a back-loaded, multiyear contract.
- The Mariners covet Billy Butler and would conceivably part with young, high-end pitching to acquire him. Butler is under contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015, though the Royals are unsure if they have enough offense to move him right now.
- The Rays like top prospect Wil Myers, though the Royals are conflicted about moving him even for a pitcher like Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore.
- The Astros could be another trade partner for Kansas City since the price to acquire Bud Norris or Lucas Harrell would be lower than it would be for Hellickson or Moore. The impact would be less too, however.
- Moore is under contract through 2014 and does not appear to be in danger of losing his job, says Rosenthal.
Here's the latest from the home of the American League champion Tigers....
- The Twins might not receive much more than a No. 4 starter in exchange for Josh Willingham, an AL executive tells Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities Radio. "There's no doubt Josh has a very good contract, but I really doubt a team would trade a viable starting pitcher for a guy with a strong bat but who is limited defensively," the executive said. "It's a lot easier to find a left-field or DH-type than to trade a good starting pitcher for one and then have to backfill the rotation spot." The 33-year-old Willingham is owed $14MM through 2014 and posted an .890 OPS last season, but another AL executive says Denard Span is a better trade chip for Minnesota.
- The Orioles have asked the Twins and Royals about Willingham and designated hitter Billy Butler, reports MLB.com's Paul Hagen. Both the Twins and Royals are desperate for pitching and while the O's have some good young arms, I don't think Baltimore has the pitching depth to spare in either the majors or minors.
- The Tigers want to keep backup catcher Gerald Laird but he will probably leave for a team that will give him more playing time, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
- The Tigers are generally active early in the offseason, though FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link) thinks this won't be the case this winter as the club's plans were pushed back by their World Series appearance.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sees Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera as a good trade target for the Cardinals, and he suggests a few young Cards prospects who could go to Cleveland in exchange for the All-Star.
The chances of Cole Hamels getting traded are diminishing, but they haven't disappeared, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The Phillies are trying to sign the left-hander to a long-term deal, but will weigh trade offers if they can’t agree on an extension. Here are Stark’s latest rumors...
- The Rays would be looking for a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher and a controllable hitter if they discuss trades involving James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Wade Davis is drawing as much interest as Shields, now that he’s pitching well out of the Tampa Bay bullpen, Stark reports.
- The Astros have told rival teams that they’d absorb a substantial percentage of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary in a trade if it allows them to get “the best value back.”
- The Padres aren’t shopping Edinson Volquez, but they haven’t made him untouchable.
- Teams don’t expect the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
- Brandon McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value. “He's not going anywhere," one executive predicted to Stark.
- The Nationals haven’t been focused on finding a center fielder.
- Hunter Pence is attracting as much interest as anyone on the Phillies, including Hamels. However, the Phillies have downplayed their interest in trading the right fielder. Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick would be available if the Phillies decide to sell this month, Stark reports. Rollins can veto any trade and would only accept deals to West Coast contenders.
- The Pirates have asked about tons of hitters, including Billy Butler, but they’re still in a “buy-low frame of mind.” The Royals have told clubs they’d have to be overwhelmed to part with Butler, Stark reports.
- The Rockies are trying to move Marco Scutaro and Jason Giambi, but they’d have to be “bowled over” to deal relievers such as Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Matt Reynolds.
The Royals' willingness to trade Jeff Francoeur has fluctuated greatly in recent weeks, major league sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. An official with another club termed their interest in moving the veteran as "back and forth, every other week."
Francoeur should draw even more interest once Kevin Youkilis is traded as clubs looking for right-handed hitting could turn to the Royals rightfielder instead. Kansas City is within striking distance in the AL Central but strong play from prospect Wil Myers could motivate the club to move the 28-year-old.
Unsurprisingly, Morosi hears that Francoeur is more available than Billy Butler, who is on a longer-term contract One source said Kansas City would need a "[Zack] Greinke-type" offer in order to part with Butler.