Saturday, January 04, 2014

Swapping Billy Butler with Kendrys Morales does not make sense

A recent blurb from quotes a Jim Duquette tweet that the Royals are interested in Kendrys Morales. Morales is comparable to Billy Butler and, according to the blurb, allow the Royals to trade Butler for pitching. Does anyone besides me think this is nonsense? Yes, Morales is comparable to Butler as we shall see. But he would cost the Royals a draft pick and is three years older than Butler. Frankly, I do not get all the Billy Butler speculation we have heard all winter.

First the comparables:
  • Butler: .345 wOBA / .357 lifetime, 7.2 runs on offense, -16.1 runs defense, -5.2 base running, 1.4 fWAR
  • Morales: .342 wOBA / .349 lifetime, 6.4 runs on offense, -16.6 runs defense, -5.5 base running, 1.2 fWAR.
Those are pretty similar. Morales has more power but Butler has a higher walk rate and on-base percentage. Neither can run and neither should bother picking up a glove. Either would be the team's DH. Similar. But there are also differences.

Butler has missed a total of eleven games in the last five seasons. Morales' 156 game total in 2013 was a high after his truly unfortunate leg injury on that famous home run celebration. But there is a difference in health here. There is also a difference in total career offensive performance.

As seen above, Butler's career wOBA is higher. 2013 was a bit of a down year for Butler that can be recovered. Here is an accumulative age WAR Graph via of the two players:

Duquette mentions that Butler could be traded for pitching. That is easier said than done. Sure, many teams might be interested in Butler as a proven and durable hitter. But again, he is not a fielder. What would the Royals get in return? Secondly, do the Royals need more pitching? And what happens if you cannot get a trade done? Then you have two similar players sitting around.

According to MLB Depth Charts, the Royals current rotation projects to James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, Wade Davis and Danny Duffy. To me, that rotation is a little shaky after Shields. But it is a big ballpark and that helps. My rotation plans would never include Wade Davis. Davis should be a bullpen piece only to add to what is already a very talented and deep bullpen.

But the Royals have options here. Yordano Ventura looks ready for prime time and would surely be better than Davis. Kyle Zimmer could start the year in Triple-A and then come up mid-season. He looks like a stud to me. 

Besides, if you are willing to give up a draft pick for Morales, why would you not be willing to do the same thing for the free agent options out there like Ubaldo Jimenez?

Billy Butler is a fan favorite in Kansas City, is signed for the next two years for just about what he is worth and does not cost a draft pick to keep. His performance should bounce back a bit from 2013 and he should have two or three more productive seasons. I do not see Kendrys Morales as an upgrade, especially if he costs a draft pick. If the team was willing to sacrifice a draft pick for a free agent, it should be on a pitcher.

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