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.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.