Last week the Mariners were said to be interested in Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd and now their search for a right-handed hitter apparently includes Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Mariners have “talked to the Royals about Butler,” who has struggled this season by posting career-lows in batting average (.273) and slugging percentage (.355) while managing just three home runs in 379 plate appearances.
Butler is still just 28 years old and has a lengthy track record of good hitting, although he never quite took the next step from very good young hitter to star-caliber hitter. He posted an OPS between .820 and .885 each season from 2009 to 2012, and then it dropped to .787 last year before plummeting to .679 this season.
He’s making $8 million this season with a $12.5 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2015, and based on his production for the past season-and-a-half he wouldn’t be worth that money next year. It’s also worth noting that the Royals have reportedly targeted Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes as a potential trade target, which might lend credence to Butler being available.
Seattle has used 13 different players in the DH spot through 95 games, with Corey Hart leading the way with 42 starts. And they’ve combined to hit .197 with eight homers and a .567 OPS, so even if Butler doesn’t turn things around in the second half he’d still provide a big upgrade.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is slated to remain with the club through the end of the 2018 season, general manager Ross Atkins told reporters on Friday. The news follows a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who cast some doubt on the veteran skipper’s future with the team several weeks ago when he said the Jays “seem destined to move on from John Gibbons.”
While it appears Gibbons’ job is safe for the next six weeks, that’s not saying much — especially as the club currently sits 30.5 games back of the division lead and will prepare to continue restructuring a sub-.500 roster come fall. As recently as last week, he hinted that he wasn’t feeling particularly eager to oversee a full rebuild. Per Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun:
Truthfully, a full breakdown, you know I have to admit I don’t know if I’m interested in that,” Gibbons said prior to Friday’s 7-0 blowout loss to the Tampa Rays. “But we’ll see. I’m still here. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Over 11 cumulative seasons from 2004-2008 and 2013-2018, the 56-year-old manager has guided the team to a winning record just five times, most recently when they earned back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016. He still has another year remaining on his contract, which was recently lengthened to include the 2018 and 2019 seasons and includes an option for 2020 as well.
Atkins also revealed that the club is prepared to reevaluate Gibbons’ role during the offseason, though it’s not yet clear whether they intend to keep him on for the next two years as originally planned, reassign him to another role within the organization, or terminate his agreement with the team altogether.