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Grading The Deal: Butler Signs Three-Year Deal With A's

By Scott McCourtney

There was no loyalty for this longtime Royal. After eight seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Billy Butler has signed a three-year deal with the Oakland Athletics worth $30 million.

The Royals declined Butler's $12.5 million team option for 2015, playing him a $1 million buyout and allowing him to become a free agent for the first time in his Major League career. He will receive a $5 million signing bonus payable by Dec. 31, a $5 million salary in 2015 and $10 million in each of the final two seasons of his new contract.

In yet another interesting move by Billy Beane, the A's have seem to have found an everyday designated hitter for the first time in three years. Beane is trying to play it safe by again signing a guy without great numbers, hoping he'll be the bat in the lineup that can replace Yoenis Cespedes.

Grade for Butler: A

This may be the best possible situation for Butler. He gets a fresh start in Oakland after a disappointing 2014 season. From 2009 to 2013, he hit below .300 only twice (.291 in 2011 and .289 in 2013) and had 15 or more home runs.

In 2014 he hit .271 over 151 games and saw his home runs dip to nine and his RBIs drop to 66. He also had career lows in slugging (.379), OBP (.323) and OPS (.702). You can make the conclusion that Butler scored nicely this offseason, especially since he was looking to stay in Kansas City.

"We gave them a chance," Butler said of the Royals to ESPN. "It didn't work out. It's unfortunate. I enjoyed every day ... It dampens it a little bit for me that we got to the top of where we're at and now I'm gone. I'm glad I got to see it through this year… It hurts a little bit that I'm not going to get to see the rest of that go through. I'm on to a different chapter, that's the way you have to look at it."

Grade for the Athletics: C

Billy Butler is not Yoenis Cespedes, just like Cespedes is not Butler. Butler is a contact hitter and Cespedes a good power hitter. You can't replace one with other, but both are counted on to drive in runs for their teams. Beane needed pitching more than Cespedes's power in 2014 and that didn't work out. Now he is trying to get a little of that back at around the same price. Cespedes will earn $10.5 million next year, but could make a lot more as a free agent after next season.

The Athletics have been contenders for a few years now and with Butler they are looking to take a step forward with small splash buys.

Beane likes to sign veterans to short-term deals as he did with Bartolo Colon (two-years, $5 million) and Frank Thomas (one-year, $ 3.1 million). Colon went on to be a Cy Young contender and Thomas won Comeback Player of the Year. He also picked up current players Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson for almost nothing. Moss made $1.6 million in 2013 and $4.1 million in 2014 and his power numbers have surged with 20 plus home runs and 80-plus RBIs. Donaldson also saw his numbers surge in the last two years while only making $500,000 in 2014. He also hit 20-plus home runs with 90-plus RBIs in both years.

"Finding right-handed power in the middle of the lineup at this stage is really difficult. It's not very often you get free agents that are in the prime of their career and still have some upside to them." Beane said to ESPN.

Beane has always been a wiz at finding talent, but he is stretching it a bit with Butler. He is coming off the worst season of his career. Beane feels Butler is at his "prime" at 28 and maybe he is right, but on a good Royals team Butler declined. The hitter has only had one 100 RBI season and I don't know if that means Butler deserves to be paid $30 million over three years. Like the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel trade, Beane seems to be gambling bigger and bigger.

Butler could turn out to be like Moss or Donaldson or he could turn out to be like Chris Young ($7.25 million for one year) or Curtis Granderson ($40 million four years).

In the end, Beane knew he would have to replace Cespedes. Out of all the free agent designated hitters in this year's class, Butler is one of the youngest. He could thrive in that A's lineup, but that money could have gone to Torii Hunter or Nick Markakis.


Complete List Of 2015 MLB Free Agents

By RealGM Staff Report

The San Francisco Giants have barely had time to finish celebrating their third World Series victory in five years and free agency is already upon us. Below is a list of all of baseball's free agents and their age. Once agreements are made, we'll up date the list to include each player's club.

Catchers

J.P. Arencibia (29)
John Buck (34)
Ryan Doumit (34)
Chris Gimenez (32)
Nick Hundley (31
Gerald Laird (35)
Russell Martin (32)
Wil Nieves (36)
A.J. Pierzynski (38)
David Ross (38)
Geovany Soto (32)

First Basemen

Daric Barton (29)
Billy Butler (29)
Mike Carp (29)
Michael Cuddyer (36)
Corey Hart (33)
Adam LaRoche (35)
Mike Morse (33)
Lyle Overbay (38)
Carlos Pena (37)
Mark Reynolds (32)

Second Basemen

Emilio Bonifacio (30)
Mark Ellis (38)
Rafael Furcal (37)
Jonathan Herrera (30)
Brandon Hicks (29)
Kelly Johnson (33)
Ramon Santiago (35)
Rickie Weeks (32)
Josh Wilson (34)

Shortstops

Clint Barmes (36)
Asdrubal Cabrera (29)
Stephen Drew (32)
Jonathan Herrera (30)
Jed Lowrie (31)
John McDonald (40)
Hanley Ramirez (31)

Third Basemen

Alberto Callaspo (32)
Jack Hannahan (35)
Chase Headley (31)
Kelly Johnson (33)
Donnie Murphy (32)
Chris Nelson (29)
Hanley Ramirez (31)
Mark Reynolds (32)
Pablo Sandoval (28)

Left Fielders

Melky Cabrera (30)
Mike Carp (29)
Endy Chavez (37)
Tyler Colvin (29)
Nelson Cruz (34)
Chris Denorfia (34)
Cole Gillespie (30)
Jonny Gomes (34)
Tony Gwynn Jr. (32)
Scott Hairston (35)
Reed Johnson (38)
Jason Kubel (33)
Ryan Ludwick (36)
Nyjer Morgan (34)
Mike Morse (33)
Alfonso Soriano (39)
Josh Willingham (36)
Chris B. Young (31)
Delmon Young (29)

Center Fielders

Emilio Bonifacio (30)
Endy Chavez (37)
Nyjer Morgan (34)
Colby Rasmus (28)
Chris B. Young (31)

Right Fielders

Nori Aoki (33)
Endy Chavez (37)
Tyler Colvin (29)
Nelson Cruz (34)
Michael Cuddyer (36)
Chris Denorfia (34)
Scott Hairston (35)
Torii Hunter (39)
Nick Markakis (31)
Alex Rios (34)
Nate Schierholtz (31)
Ichiro Suzuki (41)
Yasmany Tomas (24)
Chris B. Young (31)

Designated Hitters

Billy Butler (29)
Ryan Doumit (34)
Adam Dunn (35)
Jason Giambi (44)
Jonny Gomes (34)
Corey Hart (33)
Raul Ibanez (42)
Jason Kubel (33)
Victor Martinez (35)
Kendrys Morales (31)
Delmon Young (29)

Starting Pitchers

Brett Anderson (27)
Scott Baker (33)
Chad Billingsley (30)
A.J. Burnett (38)
Chris Capuano (36)
Bruce Chen (38)
Kevin Correia (34)
Gavin Floyd (32)
Jason Hammel (32)
Aaron Harang (37)
Roberto Hernandez (34)
Josh Johnson (31)
Kyle Kendrick (30)
Hiroki Kuroda (40)
Jon Lester (31)
Colby Lewis (35)
Francisco Liriano (31)
Paul Maholm (33)
Justin Masterson (30)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (34)
Brandon McCarthy (31)
Brad Mills (29)
Franklin Morales (29)
Brandon Morrow (30)
Felipe Paulino (31)
Jake Peavy (34)
Wandy Rodriguez (36)
Ervin Santana (32)
Joe Saunders (34)
Max Scherzer (30)
James Shields (33)
Misael Siverio (24)
Kevin Slowey (31)
Carlos Villanueva (31)
Ryan Vogelsong (37)
Edinson Volquez (30)
Randy Wolf (38)
Chris Young (36)

Closers

Jason Grilli (38)
Casey Janssen (33)
David Robertson (30)
Francisco Rodriguez (33)
Sergio Romo (32)
Rafael Soriano (35)

Right-Handed Relievers

Mike Adams (36)
Matt Albers (32)
Burke Badenhop (32)
Andrew Bailey (31)
Matt Belisle (34)
Heath Bell (37)
Jared Burton (34)
Joba Chamberlain (29)
Jesse Crain (34)
Kyle Farnsworth (39)
Jason Frasor (38)
Kyuji Fujikawa (34)
Luke Gregerson (31)
Matt Guerrier (36)
Luke Hochevar (31)
Jim Johnson (32)
Matt Lindstrom (35)
Jeff Manship (30)
Nick Masset (33)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (34)
Dustin McGowan (32)
Jason Motte (33)
Pat Neshek (34)
Juan Carlos Oviedo (33)
Chris Perez (29)
Sergio Santos (31)
Kevin Slowey (31)
Tim Stauffer (32)
Jose Veras (34)
Jamey Wright (40)

Left-Handed Relievers

Joe Beimel (38)
Craig Breslow (34)
Sean Burnett (32)
Phil Coke (32)
Neal Cotts (35)
Scott Downs (39)
Zach Duke (32)
Tom Gorzelanny (32)
Andrew Miller (30)
Franklin Morales (29)
Josh Outman (30)
Joe Thatcher (33)

 

This list was put together using the tremendous resource that is MLB Trade Rumors.


2014 World Series: How Will It Shake Out?

By Andrew Perna

After a lengthy layoff between postseason games, baseball returns on Tuesday night as the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals open the World Series at Kauffman Stadium.

Throughout the playoffs both the Giants and Royals have looked like clubs of destiny, but the time has come to determine who will be remembered as the Major League's best team. Kansas City has won all eight of their postseason games, while San Francisco has been impressive as well in winning eight of their 10 contests.

I’m sure you’ve heard the popular narrative -- Kansas City and San Francisco were both Wild Card entrants and neither won 90 games. The Royals hadn’t even been to the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985, but they look like seasoned veterans. The Giants, meanwhile, have appeared in the Fall Classic every other year dating back to 2010. Oh by the way, they won it all in 2010 and 2012.

The regular season seems like forever ago and we’ve learned that the team that performs best over 162 games isn’t always best prepared for the playoffs, but clubs rarely change drastically in terms of production. The Giants and Royals both employed middling offenses this year with San Francisco having edges in OPS (.699 to .690), home runs (132 to 95) and runs per game (4.1 to 4.0). As you might expect, Kansas City best San Francisco on the bases with nearly 100 more steals (153 to 56).

How have things changed in October?

The Royals have been the better offensive team in the playoffs with advantages in OPS (.721 to .638), home runs (8 to 5) and runs per game (5.25 to 4.1). It has been more a drastic change in production from Kansas City than any significant change from San Francisco. It's worth noting that the Giants have had to face better pitching in the LDS and LCS rounds. Still, it is impressive the Ned Yost’s club has been able to score 31.25% more runs in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.

Kansas City has swiped 13 bags in their eight playoff games, which is just two fewer than the other nine playoff entrants have totaled combined. Speed will be key in the World Series as Buster Posey and the San Francisco pitching staff will look to keep the Royals in check. Making smart decisions with the baseball and executing key defensive plays will be a top priority for Bruce Bochy and Co., especially after they had a front row seat as the St. Louis Cardinals fumbled multiple times in the NLCS.

It’s unlikely that Posey and his battery mate will keep the Royals entirely contained on the bases, but they have the discipline to keep Yost and his staff from stealing a championship solely with their feet.

The best starting pitcher in the series is Madison Bumgarner, which is a huge advantage for the Giants. James Shields, who carries the nickname “Big Game James” has a reputation that he hasn’t lived up to this month, will oppose Bumgarner in Game 1 and then perhaps again in Game 5 depending on how the first three games shake out.

Bumgarner, the MVP of the NLCS, has a 1.42 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 28 strikeouts against just five walks in 31.2 playoff innings. If he’s able to dominate in his starts as he has so far, San Francisco will be in great position to win their third title in five years.

Shields, meanwhile, is coming off some mediocre pitching and a passed kidney stone. In 16 innings this postseason, the right-hander has a 5.63 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and 15 strikeouts against five walks. He’s given up more home runs and hits than Bumgarner, who has thrown nearly twice the innings.

The entirely of this World Series will pivot on Bumgarner and Shields. The Royals traded Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays for Wade Davis and Shields, who was supposed to help push them over the edge. Both have helped do so -- Shields was very good and very reliable during the regular season and Davis has been a shutdown reliever -- but “over the edge” now becomes the Promised Land.

Shields doesn’t have to match Bumgarner frame-for-frame, especially with Kansas City’s bullpen lined up in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, but he’ll have to give Yost six quality innings and hope the offense is able to get to Bumgarner, who is averaging nearly eight innings per start in October.

If the Giants aren’t able to win with Bumgarner on the mound, it won’t be surprising if the Royals are able to win a short series. On the other hand, if Bumgarner dominates, San Francisco will be in great position to end Kansas City’s magical run. He’s essentially a 6-foot-5 seesaw.

After Bumgarner-Shields, we’ll see Jake Peavy/Yordano Ventura, Tim Hudson/Jeremy Guthrie and Ryan Vogelsong/Jason Vargas. Those three matchups are impossible to predict. The Giants might have a staff with more experience, but in terms of stuff and recent results the Royals are more than capable of winning on the shoulders of a 23-year-old with a raw shoulder (Ventura) or a 31-year-old with a 4.20 career ERA (Vargas).

The Royals clearly have the more reliable bullpen with the Kelvin Herrera-Davis-Greg Holland combination, but Bochy is a better game manager than Yost and the Royals can’t rely on Herrera-Davis-Holland to continue to dominate in historic ways. There will be at least one game in which Yost will have to decide whether to leave his starter in for the seven or even eighth inning or hand the ball over to the bullpen as he feels most comfortable.

That decision will loom as large as how Bumgarner-Shields shakes out in the first and fifth games. The Giants have a heart of the order -- Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence -- that famously feasts on fastballs.

Kansas City hasn’t lost a game since Sept. 27, but San Francisco has never lost a playoff series with Bochy and Posey. How will the Royals react if they lose a game? Will they panic if that loss comes in Game 1? Can the battle-tested Giants take a few punches from the Royals at an energized Kauffman Stadium and still stay on their feet?

Ultimately, the Giants have Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, the two best players in the series. Having the best player isn’t the be-all and end-all in playoff baseball (look at how the Royals bested Mike Trout’s Angels and the Orioles topped Miguel Cabrera’s Tigers), but when the two best are comprised of one team’s battery that’s a difference-marker

Prediction: Giants in 6



2014 ALCS: Royals vs. Orioles Preview & Predictions

Baltimore's deep roster and the leadership of Buck Showalter will be enough for the Orioles to advance to the World Series and end Kansas City's mystical run.


2014 ALDS Preview & Predictions

In his first playoff appearance, Mike Trout will help lead the Angels over the Royals. How will the Tigers-Orioles shake out?


MLB Rankings For End Of 2014 Regular Season

In the final edition of our OPSERA rankings for the 2014 season, eight playoff teams fall in the top 10 with the Nationals, Dodgers and Orioles at the top.


MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning July 28

The Athletics still have the best record in baseball and top spot on our rankings, followed by the Nationals, Dodgers, Angels and Tigers.


MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning July 21

The Angels and Tigers have swapped spots in our weekly Major League rankings as Los Angeles continues to chase Oakland for the best record in baseball.


MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning July 14

The A's are first in our rankings for the eighth-straight week, but the Angels are threatening. Oakland leads the AL West by less than two games.