So far, this winter has been a dead one if you follow the Kansas City Royals. There are many factors contributing to this. One appears to be the Collective Bargaining agreement between the players and owners, which is currently in discussion. Another factor is the growing patience of GM Dayton Moore, who once was an early ‘Wheeler and Dealer’ in the offseason. Moore has said he wants to wait until the Winter Meetings, which begin on December 4th, before making any major moves with the roster. All that being said, last week there were a couple transactions that piqued the interest of at least a few Royals fans.
The first was the re-signing of backup catcher Drew Butera to a two-year deal. Butera returns to Kansas City making $1.8 million in 2017 and $2.3 million for 2018. It was long believed that Butera would be back in Kansas City as the backup to starting catcher Salvador Perez:
“We made it very clear once the season was over that we wanted to bring back Drew,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “He’s been a valuable performer for us. We works well with our pitching staff and Salvador and our coaches.”
Butera is coming off of a career year offensively, posting new career highs in doubles, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, OPS+, bWAR and WPA:
“He has made tremendous strides offensively,” Moore said. “We feel extremely confident with him defensively and feel like he can contribute in a lot of ways.”
In some ways Butera is the perfect catcher for Kansas City as he enters his age 33 season. With Salvador Perez entrenched as the starter, and knowing that manager Ned Yost is not one to rest his regulars too much, Butera won’t be seeing a ton of playing time unless an injury occurs. Butera is known for being an above average defender and a guy who pitchers like to throw to. He is the ultimate team player as well; last season it was discussed how in the past he has been known to do anything the coaching staff needs him to do, whether that be a bullpen catcher or warming up the starting pitcher while Salvy is getting his gear back on. Hell, he even pitched in a few blowouts in 2016 and more than held his own on the mound. Butera has flaws in his game but as long as he isn’t seeing regular playing time he is a solid receiver to play in 4o to 60 games a year. Add in the mutual love between the fans and him and it only makes sense for him to return to the Royals.
On the other end, Tim Collins elected free agency as the team was making room on their 40 man roster. Collins is coming off of consecutive Tommy John surgeries and hasn’t pitched since 2014. When healthy Collins is an above average contributor out of the bullpen, posting an ERA+ of 117 and 9.4 strike outs per 9 innings from 2011 to 2014. In some ways this hurts Kansas City, as it is not every day you run across a lefty reliever with mid-90’s fastball that averaged 60+ innings over the first three seasons of his big league career. On the other hand, there is no assurance that Collins will even be able to return from back to back surgeries and definitely not for the $1.5 million he was expected to make in 2017. I always liked having Collins coming out of the pen late in the game, as he a reliable arm. At this point, we can wish him the best luck and hope he doesn’t get to pitch against Kansas City very much.
Both of these moves, while minor, are a step in figuring the construction of the 2017 Kansas City Royals. So what happens next? No clue. Dayton talks like this could be it, but I find that hard to believe:
“There’ll be some moves that we make and present themselves for us the remainder of the offseason,” Moore said. “But I think what you see now is about what it’s going to be going into spring training.”
If this isn’t Dayton-Speak, then I don’t know what is. Moore is notorious for not tipping his hand during this part of the year and I am not surprised by his sly use of words here. Dayton likes to cloud suspicion on possible moves and I would not expect to find out about anything until a deal is almost done. What I do feel will happen is for the Royals to be more active on the trade market than with free agency. There just isn’t a great crop of free agents out there this year and Kansas City would probably be more successful making a deal or two at this point. What I can promise is that Moore is not done. There is no way that Drew Butera is the biggest move of Kansas City’s offseason.