By Seth Lee
Six years into his pro career, Billy Butler has become the face of the franchise for the Kansas City Royals.
So far he has a higher batting average and more hits, homeruns, RBI, and at-bats than former batting champion and seven-time All-Star Michael Young at that point in his career.
Butler also has more hits, homeruns, and RBI than Mariners Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez through the first six years of their respective careers.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com thinks that the Mariners, who are desperate for hitting, are very interested in finding a way to bring him to Seattle, even if that means trading away a high-end pitching prospect.
Matt Pitman, host of the Mariners pre and post-game show on 710 ESPN, is very much in favor of the Mariners making a major push for Butler.
“He is the only guy out there right now that I think is available via trade, and I’m including Justin Upton in this, that I would lead the conversation, if I’m Jack Zduriencik , with Taijaun Walker,” Pitman said, filling in on “Brock and Salk” on Friday.
Trading away a top prospect like Walker would resemble a deal last season in which the Mariners sent starting pitchers Michael Pineda, who finished fifth in AL Rookie of the year voting in 2011, and Jose Campos to the Yankees in exchange for catcher Jesus Montero, the top prospect in the Yankees organization at the time, and pitcher Hector Noesi. That move worked out pretty well for the Mariners as Montero went on to lead the team in batting average and finished second on the team in homeruns and RBI. Pineda, meanwhile, did not pitch in any game last season due to an injury suffered in spring training.
“I’m of the mind that that’s why you have prospects, you don’t have prospects to wonder what the heck can happen in the next five years,” Pitman said. “You have prospects to be able to go out and wheel and deal, and in the way that the Yankees and the Red Sox can out-spend you financially, you can out-trade them.”
Mariners analyst Shannon Drayer is also on board with sending a high-end prospect like Walker to the Royals for Butler.
“Butler is almost perfect when you look at what the Mariners need,” Drayer said. “He’s a hitter first, power second right-handed bat, and with the fences coming in this year it would be worth it.”
Drayer does see a few potential problems with the deal, however. The Mariners would have to decide what to do with current DH Jesus Montero and first baseman Justin Smoak if the deal happened. She also says although Walker may be the Mariners best bargaining chip, he may not be what the Royals need right now.