Royals designated hitter open to renegotiating contract for 2015, beyond
CHICAGO -- Billy Butler has had a struggle this season and no one, including him, is sure when or if he'll come out of it. One thing Butler does know is that he'd like to remain with the Royals -- even if it means renegotiating his contract.
That contract now calls for a 2015 club option for $12.5 million which, considering his lack of production so far, the club would seem unlikely to exercise. The buyout for Butler's deal is $1 million.
"If the option doesn't work, I'd be more than happy to renegotiate in any type of way. I've always said that," Butler said on Monday.
"I've been with the Royals for my whole career so why wouldn't I? It's all I've ever known and I love it here. I never said anything about, 'Oh, it's my option year, take it or leave it.'"
Renegotiation logically might include a lower salary per season in exchange for a longer-term deal, but Butler says that really doesn't concern him now. He's making $8 million this year.
"At this point in time, that's not what's most important," Butler said. "What's most important is winning ballgames."
That's something that has proved difficult recently along with getting hits and RBIs for Butler. In the first 14 games in July prior to the Chicago series, he was hitting .250 with homer, one double, two RBIs and two walks. The team record in those games was 5-9.
"I'm grinding it out and there'll be some production coming soon," he said.
Butler's previous seven years with the Royals were largely productive and in 2012 he was honored as the game's best designated hitter.
"I feel my career has been pretty good to this point. I enjoy it here, have made some friends, been around here a long time," Butler said. "I understand baseball is a business, I'm grateful for being here as long as I've been here. I hope it's for a while longer. It's just like Sween-Dog [Mike Sweeney] -- at a certain time it comes to an end. But I've enjoyed my time here; hopefully, it's longer."
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching on July 31, there has been scant mention of Butler in rumors, although the Royals have been mentioned at times, mostly recently in connection with Rangers slugger Alex Rios, who is out with a sprained ankle.
"Needless to say it doesn't affect me at all. It never has," Butler said.
Meantime, manager Ned Yost awaits the emergence of the old Butler at the plate.
"He's getting good pitches to hit, he's just late on 'em," Yost said. "He works and studies as hard as anybody. And I think he's -- I don't want to use the word, 'dumfounded' -- but he's confused. He doesn't know why he's not hitting pitches."
Butler plugs on determinedly, even from a spot lower in the lineup from his customary third or fourth.
"Even the most consistent guys, they go on struggles, too. It happens," Butler said. "I'm not saying I'm not going to come out of it and go on a tear, and hit .400 for the rest of the year. I always have that confidence. But that drop in the lineup was warranted. I agreed with it. I was struggling, I wasn't getting the job done. It doesn't matter how good your career has been."
And so far, Butler's career has been entirely with Kansas City.
"George [Brett] always told me and I agree with it: 'Everything I've got is from the Kansas City Royals,'" Butler said. "Everything I have is from them taking a shot with me. They had faith in me and I felt like I responded in a good manner for them. Every day, I go out there and try to give it back to them."