Billy Butler, who was recently released by the Oakland A’s, will sign a major league contract with the Yankees on Thursday.
The Yankees have decided that adding a veteran right-handed bat to their roster was vital after shelving Aaron Judge for the remainder of the season; which is exactly how long Butler, the career DH–who made a name for himself while in Kansas City, will be in New York.
Depending on who you ask, the story about why Butler was released by the Athletics is two-fold.
Having signed a 3-year, $30M deal in 2015, Butler did very little in terms of earning his paycheck. Over the span of almost two full seasons, Butler’s slash line was a dreadful .258/.325/.394.
As for 2016, he only managed to hit .276/.331/.403 with four homers and 31 RBI in 242 plate appearances, hence the reason Oakland was willing to eat the final year, and $10M on his guaranteed contract.
However, those inside baseball circles will say that Butler was evicted from Oakland due to a clubhouse altercation with former teammate Danny Valencia.
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The story goes that Valencia had an equipment representative visiting him inside team premises when the rep questioned Valencia about some off-brand cleats inside his locker. Valencia said he only used them during pregame workouts.
Butler, who is endorsed by a competitor, heard the conversation and decided to yell across the clubhouse that Valencia was lying.
Obviously, Valencia took umbrage with this reveal of information. Soon a heated argument turned violent when the two came face to face. As a scuffle ensued, Valencia struck Butler upside the head, around the temple region, ending the fight.
Butler would go on to miss the next two games due to a concussion. Word soon spread that this wasn’t the first time Butler acted as a clubhouse cancer, often inciting tension and distrust among teammates.
Fast forward to where we are today. Having dropped a crucial game on Wednesday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and failing to pick much-needed ground in the AL Wild Card race, Yankees brass decided that only having to pay a prorated $50,000 of Butler’s salary for the remaining 17 games, was an investment worth making.
Since he was signed after Aug. 31, Butler will be ineligible for the Postseason roster, but the Yankees need to get their first.
With seven of the Yankees’ next 11 games tentatively slated to start against left-handed pitching, Butler could be thrust into immediate action. After all, he is a career .299/.381/.491 hitter against southpaws.
So even if Butler sets the world ablaze, this will likely be a short-lived Yankee career, so there’s no need to worry about him infecting the Baby Bombers with negative energy.