The Yankees have agreed to sign designated hitter Billy Butler, reports Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. Butler was released by the Athletics earlier this week, so the Yankees will only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
New York made the move for one reason: to improve their lineup against lefties in the wake of Aaron Judge‘s hamstring injury. The Yankees started backup catch Austin Romine at DH against Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, so there’s a clear path to playing time for Butler.
Not coincidentally, the Yankees are scheduled to face three left-handed starters during their four-game series against the Red Sox this weekend. They’re tentatively scheduled to see seven lefty starters during their upcoming 11-game road trip as well.
Butler, 30, was released by the A’s after hitting .276/.331/.403 (102 OPS+) with four home runs in 85 games. He put up a .262/.319/.369 (86 OPS+) against southpaws this season, so obviously the Yankees are hoping Butler hits closer to his career .299/.381/.491 (119 OPS+) line against lefties.
Because he was signed after August 31, Butler would not be eligible for the Yankees postseason roster should the team qualify for the playoffs. They’re currently two games back of the second wild-card spot with 17 games to play.
Source: CBS Sports / Yankees reportedly agree to sign Billy Butler for bench depth