Earlier today, the Royals bid farewell to slugger Billy Butler, who signed a three-year, $30MM deal with the A’s. It wasn’t surprising to see Butler head elsewhere after KC turned down his one-year, $12.5MM club option (our own Steve Adams actually predicted the exact terms of Butler’s new contract), but the loss still stings for the Royals. This afternoon, Royals GM Dayton Moore spoke with reporters about how the club will proceed without the the longest-tenured member of Kansas City’s roster. After watching the former All-Star sign a hefty three-year, $30MM deal, I asked Moore if he considered exercising the club option on Butler and trading him rather than letting him leave via free agency and getting nothing.
“That’s something talked about but the timing of it really didn’t allow us to do that,” Moore said. “There was nobody really willing to do that at the time. We just finished playing [in the World Series] and three days later we had to make a decision. If we would have found a viable trade partner it’s something we would have done, or looked at. I don’t know if we would have done it because I’m not sure what the package would have been, but it’s something we certainly looked at.”
Ultimately, Moore admits that he misread the market when it comes to Butler, but over the years he has learned that free agency is always difficult to predict and “hindsight is 20/20.” Even after declining the option, Moore felt that he had a good chance of retaining Butler, but things just weren’t meant to be. Now, the Royals will have to fill the void in their lineup and they’ll explore all opportunities. Moore hopes that he can take care of his right field need and some of the DH at bats with one signing, but he won’t pigeonhole himself.
“We like our flexibility, for certain.” Moore said. “It could be one guy or we could guys a day off like [Alex] Gordon or Lorenzo [Cain] or Omar [Infante].”
The Royals, Moore says, will search hard for a right-handed bat with some pop, but he also spoke at length about Kansas City’s needs in the starting rotation. That lines up with a report from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, noting that the club has checked in with the agents for Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Jason Hammel, and Jon Lester. Royals fans might be sad to see Butler go, but Moore insists that the club still has “plenty of room to sign a free agent or two.”