Royals find Billy Butler replacement, sign Kendrys Morales

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Billy Butler left the Royals to sign a three-year, $30 million deal with the A’s and now Kansas City has filled the designated hitter spot with Kendrys Morales.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Morales gets a two-year deal worth $17 million, plus incentives. So the Royals save money compared to Butler, but Morales is a huge question mark following a season in which he turned down the qualifying offer, waited until late July to sign, and hit .218 with a .612 OPS in 98 games.

However, in 2012 and 2013 he hit a combined .275 with 45 homers and a .786 OPS in 290 games. By comparison, during that same time Butler hit .301 with 44 homers and an .836 OPS before seeing his production drop significantly (although not as much as Morales’ did) in 2014.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.