The Oakland Athleticshave released designated hitter Billy Butler, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Though the timing seems a bit odd, it makes sense for the A’s to simply accept the fact that he’s a sunk cost and just move on, particularly after Butler was seemingly the instigator in a locker-room fight recently.
Coming off a World Series run with the Royals in 2014, Butler hit free agency and somehow landed a three-year, $30 million deal from the small-market A’s. He was coming off a season in which he hit .271/.323/.379 with only nine home runs. If he were, say, a slick-fielding shortstop, that wouldn’t be so bad. It’s just that Butler is a DH (or first baseman on occasion). When the only thing you do is hit, you need to hit better than that, notably for more power.
Still, A’s president Billy Beane took a shot and he missed badly here.
In 236 games for Butler with the A’s, he hit .258/.325/.394 (99 OPS+) with 19 homers and 96 RBI. And, again, there was the fight with Danny Valencia in which several former or current (at the time) teammates took to Twitter to get Valencia’s back.
Given that this isn’t the NFL, Butler still gets his money from the A’s. With a slight backload, he’ll make $11.667 million next season to not play for them. He’s free to sign elsewhere and it will most certainly be for the league minimum, given that he’s already making a lot from the A’s. That’s just how it goes when players are released.
As for a list of suitors, it’ll be very short. If he signs right now with a contender, he’s not eligible for the postseason roster anyway. He’s now 31 years old and hasn’t been a very good hitter since 2013. That’s his only skill, too, so there won’t be much of a market for him.
The hunch is Butler catches on somewhere next spring but has to fight to make the team in spring training.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / A’s cut losses by reportedly releasing veteran DH Billy Butler