Seeking offensive upgrade, A's land Billy Butler on three-year, $30M deal

Seeking offensive upgrade, A's land Billy Butler on three-year, $30M deal

Billy Butler didn't sound like a guy ready to leave the Kansas City Royals despite the team declining his $12.5 million option for 2015. Of course, that was before the Oakland A's called offering a three-year, $30 million deal, plus a $5 million signing bonus.

According to Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors, Butler has agreed to accept Oakland's offer and will likely become their full-time designated hitter in 2015.

The A's have not yet made the signing official, though ESPN's Buster Olney confirms an agreement has been reached and the deal will be finalized pending a physical.

Butler, 28, was Kansas City's first-round pick in 2004 and was right in the middle of the organization's slow build back to postseason and World Series contenders. To move on now is understandably difficult, but landing a three-year deal at a slightly lower rate should take the sting out of it.

In 2014, Butler posted full season career lows across the board, batting just .271/.323/.379 with nine home runs and 66 RBI in 151 games. The Royals' decision to decline his option was a no-brainer, and there was some belief early in the process that he wouldn't command more than two years at between $6 million-$8 million. In raising the ante, A's general manager Billy Beane is gambling on Butler immediately bouncing back and sustaining a level of production more in line with his 2009-2012 avevages.

During that four-year span, Butler averaged 21 home runs and 93 RBIs per season to go with a .306/.371.483 line.

Of course, even in a down year, Butler hit one point higher than Derek Norris, who was Oakland's leading hitter in 2014, and sixteen points higher than Josh Donaldson, the team's All-Star third baseman. The need to upgrade the middle of the batting order was obvious, and Butler certainly fits that description relative to the team's 2014 output. He's especially good for his career against left-handed pitching, posting a .314/.393/.519 line. Despite his struggles, those numbers held up well in 2014, with Butler going .321/.387/.460.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes Butler would be ideal for a platoon role in Oakland's offense, which is something the A's embrace.

However, for the A's to commit that money, he almost has to be viewed as an everyday player.

It's an intriguing signing to say the least, and it's likely only the beginning for Beane as he reshuffles his roster coming off another postseason disappointment. On its own, it doesn't look like a crippling deal even in a worst-case scenario. But it will definitely be interesting to see what Beane has in store next, and what his gameplan for this offseason looks like.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!