Jon Morosi just reported that the San Francisco Giants are showing interest in Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton.

The Giants outfield defense was terrible in 2017. So being interested in an elite defender like Billy Hamilton makes a lot of sense. The ballpark in San Francisco has enormous gaps and is deep in center. There’s a lot of room to cover and Billy Hamilton does so with the best defenders in baseball.

Billy Hamilton is under contract for the next two seasons and is arbitration eligible. Two seasons ago he had the best year of his career at the plate, hitting .260/.321/.343. Last season, though, was the second worst of his career as he hit just .247/.299/.335.

Where Billy Hamilton brings his value is on the bases and in the field. He’s among the best in baseball in both categories. But, he is also among the worst in baseball at the plate. There’s a lot of give and a lot of take to his game. He is at the extremes of the spectrum.

Before getting into what the Giants could offer, we need to ask what the Reds would do in center if they traded Billy Hamilton. The team doesn’t seem to think that Scott Schebler is an everyday center fielder. They didn’t seem to give much time to Phillip Ervin as an option late in the year when they needed a center fielder. It would seem that if the team were to trade Hamilton that they would also need to go outside of the organization to acquire someone else to play in center field.

I will be honest: It’s tough for me to gauge exactly what the trade value for Billy Hamilton would be. He’s clearly a useful piece, but he also doesn’t seem like a difference maker because of just how much he struggles offensively. Despite that, given just how good he is defensively, a team like the Giants with so much ground to cover in center, he could provide far more value there than in Cincinnati.

The Baseball America Midseason Top 10 rankings for the Giants leaves a lot to be desired. There are some solid pieces in there, but there are a lot of question marks, too. Nothing really jumps out at you and says “this is the guy to build around” from a trade package perspective. Their #1 prospect is a 1st baseman with a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. That kind of tells you what you need to know about the strength of their farm system. Maybe Heliot Ramos does something for you, and as their 1st round pick in 2017 he had a stellar debut, but he’s also an 18-year-old and had a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. There’s a whole lot of risk there for the center piece to a trade.

It’s tough to see a good fit between the two teams here unless I’m just missing someone. That is entirely possible. But, even looking at their big league roster for possible options, I’m just struggling to see a good match. Their pitching was pretty poor. And of the relievers who did post good ERA’s, they had iffy peripherals at best and likely benefited from playing in a huge home ballpark.

28 Responses

  1. Kap

    Billy for hunter Strickland and maybe another prospect? Can’t image Hamilton’s value is very high. Perhaps that trade idea could lead to an Iglesias trade

  2. Gaffer

    Trade him . . . . if nothing else he is not in reds winning horizon. Get creative with return but don’t need a star.

  3. Billy

    I firmly believe that Hamilton can be a very good player if a team played to his strengths and limited exposing his weaknesses. If he gets moved, we’ll look back and regret it. And if he stays, we’ll continue miscasting him as an everyday, leadoff hitting CF, and we’ll regret that too. That’s my fear, anyway.

    • Colorado Red

      A big ball park like San Fran may help
      He can cover more ground.
      Also, players have to play differently.
      Thus he may be better.
      Also, due to the fact, SF has a good manager, he may be better

    • Wes

      Completely agree. Need to require a replacement before giving him away

    • KyWilson

      Hes a great fielder/baserunner, that carries a toothpick to the plate. He gets hurt regularly as well. His defense is all that keeps him in the league. I highly doubt the Reds would ever look back at a trade and think they messed up with Hamilton.

    • victor vollhardt

      I agree with BILLY–The team should try some “out of the box” stuff. Maybe he should only bat right handed–maybe he should bat in the nine hole as that creates a lot of different scenarios and takes the lead off pressure off ( and maybe puts Winker in the lead off spot). And he has to Bunt at least two times every game for every time he puts the ball in play with his speed something good can happen. If the bunting has to come from an order from management then so be it. He is a once in a lifetime player when it come to defense(and makes all the pitchers better) and running the bases. If any of the above could move him to a .260 hitter with a 320 OBP (small goals) —-it makes him an all star and the team much better. With work on all sides it could and it would maximize his value. At this point in time his return to the Reds in a trade would not be much.

  4. MK

    Bet if they get Giants to pay half the contract they could get Cueto back and something else.

    • rgslone

      Don’t tease me, now!

      If the Reds could get Cueto for Hamilton, plus have SF pay half (or at least a significant amount) of Cueto’s salary, I would be ecstatic. I live 3.5 hours from Cincinnati, but if they pulled that deal off I might buy season tickets.

  5. Kap

    How about Christian arroyo? May have to add to that deal to make that work. Could be the answer to the red’s shortstop problem. Lorenzen perhaps?

    • The Duke

      Arroyo isn’t a shortstop long term. Maybe not even in the short term either.

  6. Jasonp

    They have a couple interesting players in their minors. Not sure how any of them would turn out.

    Christian Arroyo might be able to hold down short until a better option comes around. Also can play third and second. MLB.com #1 prospect for the Giants.

    Heliot Ramos first round pick in 2017. Had a 1049 OPS as an 18 year old in rookie ball. Outfielder.

    Bryan Reynolds high A center fielder. Switch hitter. Hit .312 and .364 OBP

    Aramis Garcia catcher in AA. He recorded the best pop times (1.85 seconds) in the Arizona Fall League during the off season. Hit .274 with 17 home runs in 400 at bats.

    Not sure what kind of deal you would do but i would be interested in a few of these guys. A young outfielder with potential, starting/backup shortstop, or a catcher closer to the majors might not be to bad to get in a trade for Billy.

  7. SErebel11

    How about the Reds trade Billy Hamilton and Keury Mella to SF for OF Denard Span and RHP Chris Stratton

    Hamilton is not a top trade chip but he carries some value. San Francisco needs a defensive CF’er for their huge park and they need to shed some payroll. Interestingly enough, both players had a 1.2 WAR last season. Span would be a better fit for the Reds offensively. Mella is a former Giants farmhand that they are familiar with.

    The Reds agree to take on the 11 million owed to Span this season and the Giants will pay the 4M next season for the buyout clause. The Reds grab Stratton who can immediately compete for a rotation spot. The 6 million dollars is steep but by grabbing Stratton maybe you don’t have to spend that money on a FA pitcher and he is controllable for 6 years.

  8. Over Yonder

    First things first.
    Trade Iglesias to Atlanta for LHP Luis Gohara.
    Then trade BHam to, not SF, but to Cleveland for CF Tyler Naquin.
    Then trade OF Scott Schebler and LHP Amir Garrett to Arizona for SS Katel Marte, SP Shelby Miller.

  9. Norwood Nate

    I like Arroyo overall. Probably doesn’t walk quite enough, but more than Peraza and I like the overall offensive profile a bit better. I was a proponent of either Arroyo or Fox as the headliner over Mella when we traded Leake.

    I also am intrigued by Andrew Suarez, a LHSP prospect that pitched pretty well in AA and AAA last year.

    Billy plus a lower ranked prospect for those two (Arroyo is blocked in MIF) might be a good starting place.

  10. The Duke

    If we could get him, I’d push for Ramos. Very good raw power, will still only be 18 all of the next minor league season. I’d play him in Billings in 2018 unless he forces his way up. I’d want another piece or two to go with it. Something like Shaun Anderson and Matt Krook

  11. Jim Delaney

    I think Reds and Giants could be a good match Hamilton, Perraza, Long, and Ariel Hernandez for Brandon Crawford and Sam Dyson… Crawford’s bat plays a lot better in Cincinnati than SF.. he is on a team friendly contract.. this lowers the Giants payroll to give them more flexibility to acquire a power hitter.. Dyson would become 8th inning setup man… if you aren’t acquiring mlb talent then the Giants shouldn’t be a team you are talking to about Hamilton… also Reds need to try and win in 2018… the ticket base is eroding…. can’t continue to play the small market card to the paying fans.. we are too smart for that BS!!!

  12. Michael B. Green

    Hamilton hit .393 v. SF last year so how he performed against them and the size of their OF along with Billy’s incredible range make perfect sense.

    Hunter Strickland is entering Year 1 of his arbitration years but will apparently have 4 years of arbitration, thus he is pretty controllable. Derek Law is interesting too.

    I don’t know if SF would part with Steven Duggar but he is in the AZFL and could fit the bill. Tyler Cyr (another reliever) could also work.

    Some combination of that would probably secure a deal.

    Billy probably needs a change of scenery to breakout. Kevin Youkilis (sp) – the Golden God of Walks – needs to teach Billy how to get on base. He’ll steal 100+ if he could get on base at even a .360 clip.

    • icehole3

      What if BHam does a EdE transition and maxes out his potential?

  13. Greenfield Red

    It seems to me part of the outfield glut problem could be solved by using BH in a role in which he could be very valuable. He should be a late inning pinch runner and defensive replacement. His sub .300 OBP just hurts the offense too much to lead off every day.

    If they don’t have another everyday center fielder, they would need to get one, but they need to anyway.

    They would still need to solve the Schebler, Duvall, and Winker for 2 corner positions, but unless he shows significant OBP improvement in Spring Training the Billy Hamilton lead off experiment should be over.

    I would think a team that intends to win big in the next couple of years would be interested in a late inning weapon that BH could be.

  14. daTrojan

    I still would looka at moving one of the corner of guys to the mets or a second basemen,Gsellman can be had, move Billy to 8 hole Winker to leadoff