Billy Butler is gone, so the Royals are searching for a new designated hitter

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Now that Billy Butler is headed to Oakland for a three-year, $30 million contract the Royals are looking for a replacement at designated hitter after he filled the role for the past eight seasons.

Replacing his 2014 production won’t be all that tough, as Butler set career-lows basically across the board by hitting just .271 with nine homers and a .702 OPS in 151 games. However, replacing his 2007-2013 production–which includes a .298 batting average and .823 OPS–will be a lot tougher.

Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals “have engaged in discussions” with free agents Michael Morse and Torii Hunter, and have also “pondered trading for” guys like Evan Gattis of the Braves and Ryan Howard of the Phillies.

Butler earned $8 million in 2014 and the Royals made him a free agent by declining his $12.5 million option for 2015. As a team Kansas City ranked ninth in the American League in scoring despite the league’s most stolen bases and second-highest batting average.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.