Royals likely to decline Billy Butler’s option, but will he re-sign for less?

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It’s not exactly a hot-button topic like whether or not the Giants will re-sign third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but the Royals face a similar decision on designated hitter Billy Butler.

Once upon a time Butler looked likely a long-term building block for the Royals, but now at age 28 his performance has slipped and the team seems likely to decline his $12.5 million option for 2015.

Butler is the longest-tenured Royal at eight seasons and was originally drafted by Kansas City in 2004, but he’s hit just .280 with a .396 slugging percentage and .746 OPS in 313 games since 2013 and for a player with zero defensive or baserunning value that’s simply not worth $12.5 million.

However, last night Butler made it clear that he wants to stay with the Royals no matter what happens regarding his 2015 option:

Even if they decline it, you can still talk. Nothing’s been said. I haven’t been told anything, nor should I. We were focused on the World Series. I bleed Royal blue, and I’m a proven major league player. If it’s not here, it’s somewhere else, but I’d rather it just be here. It’s just the way it is. We’re small market and business is business, but I feel like it’s a little bit more than that here.

Parting ways with Butler would give the Royals a chance to add a bigger power threat to the middle of the lineup. He’s topped 20 homers just once in the past five seasons and has a .449 career slugging percentage while frequently being among the league leaders in grounding into double plays. Of course, breaking up after a decade together can be tough and as recently as 2012 he hit .313 with 29 homers and an .882 OPS.

Indians to activate José Ramírez tomorrow

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Indians slugger José Ramírez broke the hamate bone on his right hand last month and had surgery on August 26 to repair it. At the time he was given the same schedule most hamate bone surgery recipients get: 5-7 weeks if all goes well. Apparently all has gone better-than-well for Ramírez, however, because the Indians are going to activate him tomorrow.

That’s good news for the Indians, who are in a dead heat with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL’s second Wild Card with six games to go.

Ramírez, like his team, started the season slowly, but he had turned things on in July and August to help fuel Cleveland’s surge into playoff contention. He hit .320/.340/.680 with nine homers and 25 driven in in July and was hitting .321/.372/.705 with six homers and 20 driven in August when he went down. Basically, he had been a better version of the Ramírez who won the Silver Slugger Award and came in third in the MVP balloting in 2018, at least for those two months.

It’ll be interesting to see how rusty he is or if the surgery has sapped his power or bat speed. We’ll only have six games in which to see it, though.