Rays Rumors

Tampa Bay Rays Showing Interest in Billy Butler

By David Hill
Sep 23, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees first baseman Billy Butler (36) commits a fielding error on a bad throw back to first base on at hit by Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (not pictured) during the first inning Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees first baseman Billy Butler (36) commits a fielding error on a bad throw back to first base on at hit by Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (not pictured) during the first inning Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Now that the Tampa Bay Rays have traded Logan Forsythe, they are in the market for a right handed bat. According to reports, that list includes former Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s designated hitter Billy Butler.

With the Tampa Bay Rays having traded Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the expectations are they the team would be looking for another second baseman. Instead, they have begun to focus on a right handed bat, and are extending their search to include players that could fit at first base or designated hitter.

If that search in free agency can lead to a potential bargain, then that is even better for the Rays. As such, it may not be a surprise that Tampa Bay has been linked to former Royals and A’s designated hitter Billy Butler, as reported by Tampa Bay Time beat writer Marc Topkin.

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While Butler would certainly constitute a low cost option, one has to wonder if he has anything left. Over the past three seasons, Butler has produced a combined .266/.325/.390 batting line with only 29 home runs and 78 doubles. In fact, Butler was a shade below average, posting an OPS+ of 99.

And yet, there may be signs that Butler can still produce. In a brief 12 game stint with the Yankees, Butler did produce a .345/.375/.517 batting line with three extra base hits, showing more life with his bat than he had during 2016. Is that a sign that he can still produce, or was that just a byproduct of playing in a hitter friendly environment?

Then, there are the clubhouse concerns as well. While Forsythe was praised by Evan Longoria for his presence in the locker room, Butler has begun to acquire a reputation as a malcontent. Who can forget his fight with Danny Valencia last year, which became a part of why Butler was released?

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There are plenty of reasons aside from his dropoff offensively as to why Billy Butler is available in free agency. However, as a potential bargain, he does fit the profile of what the Tampa Bay Rays are looking for. Just don’t expect him to fill that leadership void.

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