Seattle Mariners Rumors: Billy Butler, Marlon Byrd Not Right Fit

By Jordan Wevers
Getty Images
Getty Images

If you are a Seattle Mariners fan, it’s no secret that the club has a shopping list as the 2014 MLB trade deadline lingers on the horizon. One of the more important things on that list happens to be a right handed hitter, preferably one who can hit for power and play a prominent role on the team as a designated hitter.

It has been confirmed by multiple sources that the M’s front office has had discussions with the Philadelphia Phillies over OF Marlon Byrd, and the Kansas City Royals about DH/1B Billy Butler.

First off, Byrd seems like the more probable acquisition here. The Phillies are currently in the NL East basement, have an aging roster and will probably begin a rebuilding phase in the offseason. All signs point to them being sellers at the deadline, if the price is right.

Byrd has bounced around MLB for most of his career. A recent spike in his power numbers, despite being 36 years old, has made him into tempting trade bait. It’s also worth noting that his out-of-the-blue power increases are likely due to the use of PEDs in recent years, as he was suspended for 50 games by MLB in June of 2012 after testing positive for a banned substance.

Both in 2012 and 2013, Byrd did not finish the season with the team he began it with. This is a buyer-beware type scenario for the M’s as Byrd has a sketchy track record and will be 38 for a portion of the 2015 season. However, if there is a silver lining, in 78 ABs at Safeco Field, Byrd is a .321 hitter.

When it comes to Butler, he’s having an off year. The career .296 hitter is presently batting .273 with only three home runs. But the Royals appear to be contenders right now, so selling off a normally reliable asset for them does not make much sense. Seattle would not be providing them with a more MLB-ready bat, and Butler is historically a better second-half player (.286 AVG, 55 HRs, 292 RBIs vs .309 AVG, 66 HRs, 306 RBIs).

The smart money says the Royals will hold onto Butler — who is only a .267 hitter at Safeco — and allow him to try and get hot during s second-half push for playoffs.

Though Seattle is near desperate to find a right handed hitter who can competently play at DH every day, both Byrd and Butler seem like gambles. The Mariners need to acquire a sure thing, especially if they plan to give away some prospects who could turn into All-Stars years down the road. Adam Jones, anyone?

Manager Lloyd McClendon has tried 13 different players in the DH spot so far for the Mariners in 2014, with a collective output of only eight home runs and a.253 batting average. Corey Hart has taken more at bats than anyone else as a DH for the M’s with 156, but he has only four home runs an a.192 average.

The Mariners are in need of someone to fill this void. Butler seems like wishful thinking, and Byrd seems like a desperation play — one that might have a competitive market of potential suitors, inflating his actual value. With two weeks to go before the deadline, Seattle should stay somewhat patient. If they’re going to do it right, they should sell the farm for a proven, difference-making hitter near their prime who possibly won’t be a free agent until 2016.

The Oakland Athletics are a prime example of selling the farm smartly, as they traded away their top prospect in SS Addison Russell for two quality starting pitchers, one of whom is still under contract in 2015.

Jordan Wevers is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @JordanWevers, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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