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Royals bid farewell to Butler, return attention to needs

Moore praises veteran DH for work on, off field; club looking to replace Shields, Aoki
MLB.com @KCKaegel

KANSAS CITY -- It was time for the Royals to say goodbye to Billy Butler after eight years in a Kansas City uniform. The Oakland A's confirmed on Wednesday the signing of the designated hitter to a three-year contract, believed to be worth $30 million.

"Billy's been a terrific player for us, he's been outstanding in the community, he's obviously a homegrown player and huge in our success. And Billy's a fun player to watch in the batter's box, there's no doubt," K.C. general manager Dayton Moore said.

KANSAS CITY -- It was time for the Royals to say goodbye to Billy Butler after eight years in a Kansas City uniform. The Oakland A's confirmed on Wednesday the signing of the designated hitter to a three-year contract, believed to be worth $30 million.

"Billy's been a terrific player for us, he's been outstanding in the community, he's obviously a homegrown player and huge in our success. And Billy's a fun player to watch in the batter's box, there's no doubt," K.C. general manager Dayton Moore said.

"But we felt we wanted to free up our resources to use them to build a team with a little better balance going forward. We have to replace a starting pitcher [James Shields], we want to continue to try to improve our bullpen ... with some more depth."

There is also the matter of right field, left open by Nori Aoki's free agency.

Video: Rosenthal on how story broke for Butler to A's

A right-handed hitter to replace Butler is preferable, Moore indicated, and it could be someone who could play right field as well as DH. The Royals are open to some sort of rotating plan at DH, enabling them to rest catcher Salvador Perez or left fielder Alex Gordon and others occasionally.

"We'd like that flexibility for certain. Our players aren't old by any means -- it's a young roster, but you would like the opportunity to allow Salvy to DH once in a while or Gordo or Lorenzo Cain or Omar Infante," Moore said.

"You like that flexibility, but I'm not sure we'll put our team together in that manner. I don't know how our team will be constructed, but right now we'll just try to find the best players we can that fit within the financial parameters we're trying to operate under."

Butler apparently didn't fit within those parameters at $10 million a year.

"The market is unpredictable and it just takes one team to blow you out of the water," Moore said. "Oakland's getting a terrific hitter, someone who loves to play baseball and he'll help their team a lot."

Video: WS2014 Gm7: Butler reflects on amazing season

Butler, 28, was second in Royals seniority only to Gordon. That's because Gordon started the 2007 season on the roster and Butler wasn't called up for his debut until May 1, 2007. Even so, Butler has played more games, 1,166, in a Kansas City uniform than Gordon, 1,032.

His best year was 2012, when he had a .313 average, 29 homers and 107 RBIs. He was selected for the All-Star Game in Kansas City, won a Silver Slugger Award, was Royals Player of the Year and took the Edgar Martinez Outstanding DH Award.

Picked in the first round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Butler spent 11 years in the organization and throughout 2014 indicated that he'd like to stay.

"George [Brett] always told me and I agree with it: 'Everything I've got is from the Kansas City Royals.' Everything I have is from them taking a shot with me," Butler said in late July. "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."

Video: WS2014 Gm2: Butler discusses curtain call

Only Royals Hall of Famer Hal McRae logged more time at DH than Butler for the franchise. McRae had 1,426 games at DH from the time the American League rule was initiated in 1973 through 1987 with a .295 average, 143 home runs and 808 RBIs.

In Butler's 734 games as DH, his average was .290 with 80 homers, 408 RBIs. Mike Sweeney ranks third among Royals DHs with 509 games at that spot, 1996-2007.

Butler also logged 394 games at first base and, believe it or not, six games in the outfield (he made his debut in left field). Impressively, while Eric Hosmer was out with an injury in August, Butler not only was solid defensively but, in 29 games that month, he hit .288 with four homers and 16 RBIs and the team went 19-10.

Indeed, when Butler seemed to be hot, the Royals seemed to be hot. During the Royals' 10-game winning streak in June, his average was .389 with 10 RBIs. When they finished the season with a 6-2 spurt, he hit .400 with seven RBIs.

For the regular season, Butler had a career-low average of .271 with nine homers and 66 RBIs, also his lowest totals for a full season. In the postseason, Butler hit .262 (11-for-42) with three doubles and eight RBIs including 5-for-15, .333, in five World Series games.

Now he's gone to Oakland.

"We're proud for everything that he did for us and the city," Moore said, adding: "We're happy for him."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.

Kansas City Royals, Nori Aoki, Billy Butler, James Shields