Saturday, January 22, 2011

Royals, Butler Agree to Extension

UPDATE (1/22/2011 at 11:52 p.m.):  According to Bob Dutton of the Royals Report, Butler's four year deal includes a $2M signing bonus; $3M in 2011; $8M in 2012, 2013, and 2014; and an option for a fifth year at $12.5M with a $1M buyout.

Original Post (1/22/2011 at 2:28 p.m.):   Dick Kaegel of reports that first baseman Billy Butler has come to terms with the Kansas City Royals on a four year contract extension worth $30M.  This extension allows both parties to avoid a potentially uncomfortable arbitration hearing.  Butler, just entering his first season of arbitration eligibility, had requested a $4.3M salary from the Royals.  The Royals countered with $3.4M.  All of that's moot now.  The current agreement will buy out all three of Butler's arbitration seasons, plus his first season of free agent eligibility. 

This looks like a great deal on the Royals end for a couple of reasons.  For starters, they receive a degree of cost certainty when it comes to their best hitter.  For a team that's had a difficult time drawing top hitters (due to their modest payroll and losing reputation), making a move like this is very important.  Secondly, this extension ensures Butler is still in a Royals uniform when their promising crop of high end prospects reaches the major leagues.

With Butler only being 24 years old (25 in April), there's reason to believe he'll continue to mature and develop as a hitter.  While his power/slugging numbers slipped a bit last season, there's reason to believe that it will bounce back next season.  Also, his plate discipline took a huge step forward as he drew more walks, and struck out less frequently.  Butler is slow afoot and poor defensively, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him get moved to the DH spot at some point in the not too distant future.  Still, even with his shortcomings, Butler will likely continue to be a productive and valuable player over the the life of the extension.

Last season, Butler produced a .372 wOBA with 15 home runs and 3.4 wins above the replacement level.

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