It takes sacrifice to field a winning ball club. Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore knows this well, but he finds himself in foreign territory this offseason.
After finally fielding a winner last year, Moore has expectations to improve on an already-solid product for the first time in his tenure with Kansas City. Will he know where to draw the line on what he’s willing to give up for a chance to reach the playoffs in 2014? That question may be answered in the way he deals with Billy Butler at these Winter Meetings.
Butler’s name has been tossed around the rumor mill often this offseason. He first was mentioned when Moore told the local media that he would entertain offers for Billy this offseason. Among many teams, the Seattle Mariners were probably most often mentioned as being interested in acquiring Butler. As the bid to bring Carlos Beltran to KC went on, many wondered if a move to acquire Beltran would make a move to trade Butler imminent.
After Beltran signed up to play in pinstripes, talk about Billy was quiet around the league until this year’s Winter Meetings began.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports recently explained through Twitter that before acquiring Prince Fielder, the Texas Rangers were interested in trading for Butler. Their interest is now assumed to have ceased, but others in the league have recently shown a desire to acquire Butler at the Winter Meetings. ESPN’s Jayston Stark pointed out that the Royals are still open to trading Butler, which could be in lieu of a move to sign Nelson Cruz.
Cruz is obviously a prolific offensive contributor, but essentially switching Butler for Cruz would be counterproductive and short-sighted from the Royals’ perspective (much like getting rid of Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura). Cruz will earn anywhere from the four-year, $64 million deal that CBS’ Jon Heyman suggests and the four-year, $75 million deal Cruz has requested.
That kind of salary, at $16 million per year, will at least double the $8 million Butler will make this season.
Butler’s base salary will increase to $12.5 million next year, but that extra $3.5 million is still a lot to spend for a player that’s five years older and has a career batting average that’s 30 points lower. Cruz’s 162-game average would give KC 12 more homers and nine more RBI a season, but that just isn’t worth the price.
Kansas City needs to find a trade that better fits their current roster situation, like perhaps a trade for Daniel Murphy or an acquisition of Omar Infante, instead of getting rid of productive bats. Their focus should be on finding someone to protect Billy in the lineup, not finding some way to get rid of the cornerstone of their offense.