Looking to shore up their offense, the Seattle Mariners have reportedly talked to the Kansas City Royals about possibly trading for designated hitter Billy Butler, per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The Mariners have been in search of a right-handed bat to balance a lefty-heavy lineup.
The 28-year-old Butler has been among the most reliable hitters in baseball over the past half decade, but has seen his production dip significantly this season. From 2009 to 2012, Butler hit .306/.371/.483, averaging a 131 OPS+ and never posting a wOBA below .350. However, after seeing his OPS+ and wOBA fall to 116 and .345, respectively, last season, Butler is batting just .273/.325/.355 with an 87 OPS+ and .300 wOBA in 379 plate appearances this year. Add in his lack of any defensive value, and Butler has been a huge negative for the Royals this year.
Butler is making $8 million this year and carries a $12.5 million team option (with a $1 million buyout) for 2015, however, due to his recent struggles, it's unlikely that the option is picked up (barring a second half turnaround), so he would probably be a half season rental.
The Mariners are off to an impressive 51-44 start, and currently sit in the driver's seat for the AL's second Wild Card spot, though they are still 6.5 games behind the Angels and 8 behind the Athletics in the AL West. Despite their success, Seattle has been among the worst offensive teams in baseball this season, with a team wRC+ of 89 that is just 25th in baseball, and a .299 wOBA that ranks 28th. Seattle designated hitters have combined to hit just .236/.289/.356 this season.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Royals were looking at Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes as a possible trade target, which could add fuel to the chances of Butler being dealt.