Drew Butera & Scott Elbert: Tendered

butera_2013-09-14It’s “agree to avoid arbitration with fringe players Friday,” apparently. After agreeing to terms with Mike Baxter, the Dodgers also came to terms with reliever Scott Elbert ($575k) & catcher Drew Butera ($700k), reports Dylan Hernandez.

Elbert didn’t pitch in 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June, so don’t expect to see him before the second of of 2014 at the earliest; Butera arrived on July 31 and we discussed all the ways in which he absolutely cannot hit in his season in review a few weeks ago.

The contracts are all non-guaranteed, reports Hernandez, and the money is negligible, but it’s worth noting that Butera is out of options. Tim Federowicz is not, so the possibility remains that Butera beats Federowicz out for a job in camp. There hopefully also remains the possibility that the Dodgers realize that it probably isn’t all that hard to upgrade on either.

A.J. Ellis, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, and Ronald Belisario are the remaining arbitration cases. Kershaw is certain to be tendered on Monday as the sides continue to work on a long term deal; Ellis & Jansen will either be tendered or agree to a contract instead. Belisario will probably be tendered, but I can’t say it’s a complete given.

By my count, the Dodgers currently have $191.97m in contracts committed. They also have just under $10m in buyouts and deferrals and approximately $28m as a best guess for the four arbitration cases (mostly to Kershaw), though $3.9m is coming back their way from the Red Sox as part of the big 2012 trade.

2013 Dodgers in Review #4: C Drew Butera

90topps_drewbutera.143/.143/.143 7pa 0hr .127 wOBA -0.1 fWAR (inc.)

2013 in brief: Hey, four whole days before I regret dedicating a post to each player!

2014 status: Arbitration-eligible, possibly a non-tender candidate, but more likely someone about to get extremely familiar with New Mexico.


You may or may not remember this, but when the July 31 trade deadline passed, it looked like Ned Colletti had finally resisted the urge to tinker, to the point where I even made a post saying nothing had happened. But minutes later, we learned that a trade had been made, and for some reason, it was adding catcher Drew Butera from Minnesota for a player to be named.

Or as I said at the time:

Butera made his debut in 2010 and in parts of four seasons backing up Joe Mauer he’s… oh lord, that’s bad. That’s a .182/.230/.263 line in 534 plate appearances, which, as Andrew Grant notes, is good for a 36 OPS+ that is the third-worst of all time with a minimum of 500 plate appearances.

Catching depth being what it is, Butera went off to Albuquerque and somehow couldn’t even hit there, putting up a .135/.196/.231 in 57 plate appearances, because, if you haven’t noticed yet, the man is not a professional quality hitter. But he still came up in September when rosters expanded, because every team carries three catchers, and actually managed to get a start… at first base. (He went 0-3 with two strikeouts. Obviously.)

This would all be completely not noteworthy in any way except for this: On August 13, we learned who was going back to Minnesota to complete the deal, and it was 19-year-old lefty Miguel Sulbaran. He’s not great, and he’s probably not even likely to reach the majors. But he’s more than the “bag of baseballs” we thought it would be, and to this day I still don’t understand it.


Next! Adrian Gonzalez is not pre-2013 James Loney, and for this we are thankful!

Dodgers Acquire Drew Butera, Do Not Make Deadline More Interesting


Though it seemed like the trade deadline passed without any excitement, it seems like we might have been a tad premature. Shortly afterwards, we learned huge, breaking, earth-shattering news: the Dodgers traded a player to be named later to Minnesota for catcher Drew Butera. The trade deadline is still boring.

So out of a sense of duty more than any particular interest, here’s what we know about Butera, the son of former big league catcher Sal Butera. He’ll be 30 on August 9, was a fifth round selection in 2005 by the Mets, and was later traded to Minnesota for Luis Castillo in 2007. Butera made his debut in 2010 and in parts of four seasons backing up Joe Mauer he’s… oh lord, that’s bad. That’s a .182/.230/.263 line in 534 plate appearances, which, as Andrew Grant notes, is good for a 36 OPS+ that is the third-worst of all time with a minimum of 500 plate appearances.

Save for a few games last week when Mauer was on paternity leave, Butera has spent all season in Triple-A Rochester, where he’s hit just .229/.258/.325. In case you haven’t quite figured it out, the man can’t hit, collecting just a .294 OBP in his minor-league career. For example, here’s what BP2013 had to say about him:

Butera might be the worst active hitter in the major leagues, but upon his 91st plate appearance of 2012, he added an honor that beats that. He has now had over 500 big-league plate appearances, and among all non-pitchers in baseball history who have reached that mark, Butera’s career 497 OPS is the 25th-lowest. That puts him at third-lowest among all players to have played a game since 1920. This is history Butera is making here! Thankfully for the Twins, Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit splitting the catching duties reduces his impact.

So yeah, hitting, not so much. As you’d expect, there’s the usual platitudes about his defense, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s not here to take Tim Federowicz‘ job, and he’s probably around just to pair with John Baker at Triple-A and make sure that Matt Wallach never comes to the big leagues. He’ll take the final open spot on the 40-man roster.

Ned Colletti, on MLB Network just now, said that you need “at least three catchers in the system you can count on, of which Butera is one,” so that probably tells you all you need to know about Baker and Wallach. He also noted that he had one other thing in the fire at the deadline that didn’t come through. I’m guessing it was slightly more entertaining than Butera.