The Kansas City Royals are coming off of their most successful season in almost 30 years. Now, with an American League Championship in hand, the team faces a new set of challenges. Possibly the largest challenge of all is sustainability.

They won the American League Championship. They were within 90 feet of potentially tying the deciding World Series game. They have shown the world that they are ready to compete on the big stage. Being there once is impressive, but finding the formula to be there again in the near future is much more so.

The decisions facing the Royals this offseason are numerous. They made the first decision of the offseason when they announced that they had declined the $12.5 million option on designated hitter Billy Butler’s contract.

The decision to decline the contract option was anticipated. Now, general manager Dayton Moore has to go to work on replacing Butler in the lineup and the clubhouse. Butler, one of the longest-tenured Royals, had been employed by the team since 2008. His leadership will be missed. His bat can be replaced.

There are five options to replace Butler in Kansas City in 2015. Those options are listed here, ranked from least likely to most likely.

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