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Rockies acquire Drew Butera from Royals for Jerry Vasto

The Royals add an intriguing lefty reliever while parting ways with their veteran backup catcher.

New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Rockies have acquired catcher Drew Butera from the Royals for left-handed pitcher Jerry Vasto, as the teams announced Friday:

Butera, 35, was the Royals’ primary catcher for the first month of the season and has seen action roughly once a week since Salvador Perez returned from the left knee sprain he suffered in late March. He’s struggled mightily at the plate, posting a .188/.259/.289 slash line with two homers in 166 plate appearances, and while he was once regarded as an above-average defender, he’s been somewhat shaky behind the plate this year, too. While the expectations placed upon him won’t be too great, the Rockies will have to hope that Butera can revert to the form he displayed in 2016, when he posted a career-high .808 OPS over 133 plate appearances.

It’s difficult to imagine that Butera will have that much of a role in Colorado over the last month of the season. While their top two catchers, Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters, have been below-average both at and behind the plate, it’s hard to argue that Butera will be any better. He’s a solid emergency backup if they need Iannetta or Wolters to pinch-hit and need a late-game defensive replacement, but it’s hard to say he’s much better in that role than 27-year-old Tom Murphy, who has been solid in limited big-league duty this year and has a .901 OPS at Triple-A Albuquerque.

The 26-year-old Vasto, though immediately optioned to Triple-A Omaha by the Royals, could be an interesting addition to a Kansas City bullpen that has been historically bad this season. He allowed three earned runs over two-thirds of an inning in his major-league debut on June 10 of this year, but he has posted pretty good numbers at Albuquerque, throwing for a 3.16 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP with 44 strikeouts and 18 walks over 37 innings. Those numbers look particularly impressive when you consider that Alburquerque’s ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in North America.

To replace Butera on the 25-man roster, the Royals recalled catcher Cam Gallagher (who has arguably outperformed Butera in the majors this year, posting a .208/.240/.292 slash line over 25 plate appearances).