Royals, Billy Butler agree to four-year, $30 million extension

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According to Dick Kaegal of MLB.com, the Royals and Billy Butler have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a four-year, $30 million extension.

Butler, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, filed for $4.3 million and was offered $3.4 million from the Royals when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this week. The new contract will cover all three of his arbitration seasons and his first year of free agency.

Butler has a .299/.359/.457 batting line over his first four seasons in the big leagues. Though his power numbers dipped a bit last season, he established career-highs with a .318 batting average, .388 on-base percentage, an .857 OPS and 189 hits. Butler doesn’t turn 25 years old until April and should be an important part of a promising rebuilding process in Kansas City.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.