Billy Butler becomes free agent after Royals decline 2015 club option

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Billy Butler is officially a free agent for the first time in his career, as the Royals announced this afternoon that they have declined his $12.5 million club option for 2015. He’ll receive a $1 million buyout.

The decision was expected. Butler batted .271 with just nine home runs and a career-low .702 OPS over 151 games this season, so the Royals felt that his declining production didn’t justify the lofty price tag for someone who is strictly a designated hitter. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star notes that Royals general manager Dayton Moore is open to bringing him back at a “more manageable” salary.

Butler, 28, has spent his entire professional career with the Royals. He was a first-round pick for the club in 2004.