What were the New York Yankees’ intentions when they signed struggling designated hitter Billy Butler to a contract?
The last thing anybody expected to hear on Wednesday night was that “Country Breakfast” signed with the New York Yankees.
On one hand, the odds a rebuilding team adds a 10-year veteran is slim to none. Especially when that guy will be ineligible for postseason play. However, he can help get them there.
The signing takes place at a time where the Yankees are set to take on three lefties at Fenway Park during a crucial series against the first-place Red Sox.
Presumably, Butler was inked to a deal to do just that: rake lefties. Unfortunately, he hasn’t hit them considerably well as of late.
Despite owning a .872 career OPS against left-handers corresponding a .766 against righties, that split has significantly shifted over the past two seasons.
In 2015, Bulter slashed a disappointing .200/.337/.350 slash line with four home runs against lefties compared to .269/.317/.405 with 11 homers against righties. Additionally, his OPS in 2016 is 91 points lower.
Before the signing, the man who was DH-ing against lefties was Austin Romine, who is hitting a mere .182 as a designated hitter this year.
Sure, he’s been overall solid as a backup catcher, but as the Yankees find themselves just two games out of a postseason spot, rolling the dice with Billy Butler is not a bad move. By any means.
I mentioned “10-year veteran,” however, he’s only 30-years old who is a career .289 hitter, has almost 50 at-bats in the postseason (which means he can deal with the pressure of this race) and has a career .271 batting average with 29 home runs against AL East teams.
Plus, he is 23-for-77 (.299) with four home runs and eight extra-base hits in just 21 games at Yankee Stadium.
This deal is nothing more than a short-term action which ventures the idea of adding a meaningful burst of production for the postseason.
Also, note that he’s a bit cheaper than a country breakfast.
Yes, the deal will be a major league contract despite that specifics have yet to be announced. However, chances are he has agreed to league minimum through season’s end especially after his discharge by the Oakland Athletics.
All that points to New York taking a mere $50K to add Butler to their roster. He will likely hit the road at season’s end.
That’s all to take from this deal. If there was a gamble to make, this was the cheapest, most reliable, and with little-to-no risk involved.
Will it go down as the best move of all-time? No. Just like it won’t, or at least shouldn’t be, the worst.
Yankees’ fans can just hope he uses the Green Monster in left a whole lot this weekend, as they look to narrow the four-game deficit in the American League East.
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.