First baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler joined the free agent market for the first time after the Kansas City Royals declined his $12.5 million option for the 2015 season. The reliable Butler, who missed only 29 games over the past six seasons, brought a veteran presence to a young Royals team that made its first postseason and World Series appearance since 1985.
Butler, 28, posted a .271 average with nine home runs and 66 RBI, and hit .333 with three RBI in fifteen World Series at bats against the San Francisco Giants. The decline in home runs over the past few seasons could be a red flag for teams looking to add his bat to their lineup. Since posting a career high of 29 in 2012, Butler slipped to 15 in 2013 and just nine last season. He may have been distracted last year by the fact that the Royals were attempting to trade him all the way up to the July 31 deadline, but found no takers.
It is very likely that Butler will remain in the American League where he can split time between DH and first base. A reunion with the Royals is not out of the question, but Butler would strictly serve as DH, since Eric Hosmer in entrenched at first base and coming off a second consecutive Gold Glove season. Seattle has been rumored as a possible destination, as they were also in on talks to acquire him at the trade deadline.
He may have been a good fit for the Mets, spelling Lucas Duda at first base against left-handed pitchers and providing a power threat off the bench. Butler is a career .314 hitter against lefties while Duda has struggled mightily against southpaws, hitting just .212 over the years. The signing of Michael Cuddyer ended any possibility of that happening.