With Billy Butler off to Oakland, the Royals look for answers at DH

BY foxsports • November 19, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The question now becomes: How do the Royals find a new designated hitter?

Multiple reports surfaced Tuesday night that longtime Royals DH Billy Butler had agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with the Oakland A's. MLB.com also reported the deal simply was pending on Butler passing his physical.

Butler did not return a phone message Tuesday night.

A report had surfaced late last week that Butler had received a three-year, $30 million offer from an unknown team, originally believed to be Baltimore. An Orioles executive quickly shot that down.

The Royals had met with Butler's representatives briefly last week, but a source close to the situation indicated that hard numbers were not exchanged then. It was not known whether Butler's representatives gave the Royals a chance to the match the A's offer, which might be a moot point anyway because sources have indicated that the Royals were not willing to go much beyond a two-year deal in the $14-16 million range.

Butler made $8 million in 2014 and the Royals declined a club option of $12.5 million, instead buying out his contract for $1 million.

Butler had his worst season in the big leagues in 2014, hitting just nine homers with a .271 average and a .702 OPS.

But Butler will end his career seventh all-time in Royals history in hits (1,263), sixth in doubles (276), seventh in homers (127), sixth in RBI (628) and third in career average (.295) behind only George Brett and Mike Sweeney.

The Royals' pursuit of a successor could take many turns over the next few weeks.

The Royals have shown interest in 39-year-old Torii Hunter, and were in the Dominican Republic last week to attend a workout by Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. But a source close to the situation said the Royals likely wouldn't be a player in the Tomas sweepstakes. Tomas could garner a deal in the $70-$100 million range.

Interest in Hunter seems more plausible, especially if the Royals commit to power-hitting outfielder Carlos Peguero in some role on the 2015 roster.

Peguero hit 30 homers last season at Triple-A Omaha but has little experience at the big-league level (214 at-bats over four seasons).

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.