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Royals decline team option on Billy Butler, making him a free agent

The slugger will hit free agency for the first time in his career.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have declined their $12.5 million on Billy Butler and will instead pay him a $1 million buyout, according to an announcement from the team. Butler will hit free agency for the first time in his career.

Butler, 28, was a consistent producer during his time in Kansas City and has expressed a desire to come back to the Royals, but the $12.5 million pricetag on his option was thought by the team to be too hefty. Butler went through a down year in 2014, hitting .271/.323/.379 with nine home runs in the worst statistical season of his career. His career average is .295, and he has averaged eighteen home runs per 162 games of his career.

Now that he is on the free agent market, Butler is expected to draw strong interest from multiple teams looking for a big bat at the designated hitter position. The Mariners are expected to make a run at Butler, and the Royals could be in the mix as well if the right deal comes along.