The Kansas City Royals are reportedly going to listen to offers for first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler this offseason. While Butler is mainly a designated hitter, first base is a position that doesn’t necessarily require great defense. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a gaping hole at first base and Butler should be one of their top targets this offseason.
Unfortunately, the Pirates play in the National League and the DH hasn’t been adopted in the NL yet. Hopefully the NL adopts a DH soon, but as of yet the pitchers still hit. Ideally, the Pirates would be able to trade for Butler the DH, not Butler the first baseman. Either way, Butler’s bat is valuable enough to make up for his defensive problems.
Even though Butler is a right-handed hitter and PNC Park is very friendly to lefties, he could still be a very effective hitter for the Bucs. He would surely be better than the combination of Justin Morneau, Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones in 2013. Last season, Butler hit for a .289/.374/.412 slash line with 15 home runs and a 116 wRC+; 2013 was considered a down-year for him in terms of production. He has a career .298/.364/.459 slash line and a career 120 wRC+.
While Butler isn’t a huge power hitter, he does have the ability to draw walks and he doesn’t strike out all that much. In 2013, Butler walked in 11.8 percent of his plate appearances and struck out in 15.3 percent. He would probably hit fourth in the Pirates’ lineup, giving Andrew McCutchen some legitimate protection.
It will take a nice package to pry Butler away from the Royals, but for a position that lacks impact talent in free agency, the Pirates may need to make a trade to upgrade first base before 2014 starts.