Royals rumors: DH Billy Butler placed on the trading block

Jeff Gross

Kansas City is reportedly ready to talk to clubs about taking their designated hitter off the books.

The Kansas City Royals are "ready to talk" to teams about trading designated hitter Billy Butler, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.

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Butler, 27, is coming off somewhat of a down year for the Royals, but his team-friendly contract could make him an attractive trade chip for American League clubs this winter.

"Country Breakfast," as he's known, is under contract with the Royals through at least 2014. He's owed a guaranteed $8 million next year, then has a $12.5 million team option (with a $1 million buyout) for 2015. A $20.5-million price tag for two years may seem steep for a guy who has little value outside of the batter's box, but Butler's consistency at the dish has been surprisingly hard to come by from the DH spot in recent years.

Among the short list of active players to spend at least 25 percent of their playing time at designated hitter since 2007, Butler ranks third in OPS+ (122) behind David Ortiz and Kendrys Morales. Part of his ranking so highly is likely an effect of teams using the DH as more of a swing-man role than a full-time thing, but his career batting line of .298/.364/.459 is still nothing to balk at.

Butler has hit as many as 29 home runs in a season during his seven years with the Royals, but turned in his lowest slugging totals last year since his first full season with the club.

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