Does Billy Butler Fit Into The Yankees 2017 Plans?

The Yankees signed Billy Butler for the start of the Red Sox series. The Yankees were due to face three pitchers that were lefties in the four game set, and Billy Butler would be a welcomed addition with Aaron Judge down for the season.

Billy Butler was signed with Oakland and he was released even though he was having a pretty decent season in Oakland batting .276 with 4 home runs. Those are decent numbers over 85 games, but an interesting note is that he is only a career .259 hitter at Oakland over 573 plate appearances. 

It only stands to reason that Butler would not be a great hitter in Oakland. He is an extra base machine, and in Oakland the ball park is so large it doesn’t play to Butler’s strengths. Butler has however flourished in the AL East and in AL East ball parks. Numbers are listed below:

  • Yankee Stadium: 21 Games .299BA  4HR , 4 2B, 9RBI
  • Camden Yards: 32 games .294BA 6 HR, 6 2B, 17RBI
  • Fenway Park: 38 games .275BA 5HR, 7 2B, 23RBI
  • Tropicana Park: 34 games .233 0HR, 2 2B, 8RBI

Butler is also a great career hitter against left handed pitching. Over 1,378 at bats he has a career batting average of .300 with a .382 on base percentage. He has also slugged 55 homers and 97 doubles. That combines to give him a slugging percentage of .493 against lefties.

The 30 year old has put together a very solid 10 seasons in the majors. His 162 career game average shows his average season looking like this: .290BA, .359OBP, 37 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 84 RBI. Those prove to be very solid numbers for the big righty.

Multiple options exist for the Yankees depending on what they want to do with Billy Butler. The slugger could definitely help them out in the line up. He could also serve as an excellent platoon at DH and back up for Bird at first base. Butlers contract runs through next season with the Athletics, and if the Yankees were to keep him on board the Athletics would still be responsible for almost all of Butler’s salary. 

This move creates multiple options for the Yankees. With the impending 40 man roster crunch coming for the Yankees this off season keeping Butler may prove to be hard with the lack of wiggle room on the roster. The Yankees have a lot of rule 5 eligible prospects due to hit this season if not added to the roster, and Butler may potentially block somebody’s roster spot.

The idea of keeping Butler for basically no money is an intriguing one though. At the present moment he is actually leading the Yankees in average this season with all players that have atleast 200 at bats. He also has been solid during his entire career as a major leaguer. His production would be a welcomed addition to a mangled Yankee offense.

My Take:

Billy Butler is somebody that undoubtedly could help the Yankee offense; however, as noted above with the 40 man roster crunch coming Butler may block a prospect potentially. Even causing the Yankees to lose one of their rule 5 eligible prospects.

Also, Butler could hurt the Yankees versalitility on the bench. Only truly being able to play first and be a DH. This could be over rated though, as Romine will most likely be moved in the off season. This would make McCann the DH against right handers, and the back up catcher. Butler would be the DH against lefties and a back up for Bird at first. This would give the Yankees two spots still on the bench. A spot for a fourth outfielder, and also a utility infielder.

Butler’s potential to help the Yankees would be great though. He is an extra base hit machine and he would also be playing in a ball park tailored to his strengths in the power alleys. The fact that he is owed almost no money from the Yankees if they decided to keep him is also something worth noting. 

By keeping Butler on the team it wouldn’t put a restraint on the Yankee youth movement as he would be expendable if he didn’t produce, but could also help the Yankees compete in 2017. Butler can also help the stability for the Yankees at first base. With Greg Bird coming back from labrum surgery he could be a great insurance policy.

At the end of the day I haven’t seen anybody that the Yankees can rely on next season at first base. The Yankees won’t want to push Bird, and they also need someone in case he either gets hurts or struggles. Billy Butler could prove to be that person. Though the Yankees should be optimistic with Greg Bird because of his youth, and talent he showed in 2015. They have to continue to be prepared for any situation. Personally, I think this means they look long and hard at keeping Butler for next year given the Yankees lack of depth at first base. Also, their lack of right handed bats capable of producing as a platoon at DH. Butler fills both categories. Remember he makes the league minimum with the Yankees and they can release him at any point with no repercussions. He would be a cheap, expendable, and potentially productive piece for the Yankees. This would not set back the youth movement at all, but would also potentially keep the Yankees competitive in 2017.

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Author: David Rinehart

Die hard Yankees fan! Grew up rooting for the dynasty the Yankees built in the 90's.

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