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Athletics release Billy Butler

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics have released 1B/DH Billy Butler. The news doesn’t come as any surprise, as Butler has underperformed in both of his years with the A’s and was recently involved in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Danny Valencia in which Butler ended up suffering a concussion.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Butler said he doesn’t believe his altercation with Valencia affected the club’s decision to release him, per Slusser.

The Athletics signed Butler, 30, to a three-year, $30 million contract in November 2014. He put up a pedestrian .713 OPS in 2015 and a .733 OPS this season. In 242 trips to the plate this year, , Butler hit only four home runs and knocked in 31 runs. 60 of the 80 times he reached base, he did it via a single or a walk.

As Butler’s playing time has waned, the Athletics have been using Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt, and Bruce Maxwell in the DH spot.

Butler has one year and $10 million remaining on his contract. The Athletics will be responsible for covering it.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?