The Cincinnati Reds will be non-tendering outfielder Billy Hamilton a contract for the 2019 season. That will make hi a free agent immediately and free to sign with any team that he wants. The outfielder is well known for his defense and for his baserunning, but he’s also well known because of his inability to hit. Since he became an every day player he’s been among the worst every day hitters in all of Major League Baseball.

MLB Trade Rumors projected Billy Hamilton to get a raise this year in arbitration. They put him in for a $5.9M deal in arbitration for the 2019 season. The Cincinnati Reds must have felt that this was not the right kind of value for their team moving forward. By non-tendering him they do not owe him any money moving forward.

What this does do is leave open a question as to who will play center field for the Reds when next year begins. Internally the team could look at several players. Nick Senzel has a very small amount of experience at the position that he had in instructional league this year. From the team last year the Reds could possibly go with either Philip Ervin or Scott Schebler, both of whom saw action at the spot at times. Jose Siri is on the 40-man roster and is easily the best defensive option to play there, but there should be real concerns with how his bat would play in 2019 at this level. There are always options outside of the organization, too, though. Free agency is out there, and there is also the option of trading for a center fielder.

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92 Responses

  1. redleggingfordayz

    Taking steps towards the next winning Reds team. Billy will be missed and I have enjoyed watching him just make some of the most amazing catches I have ever seen in CF. Onward my friends!

  2. Brad

    I can see Reds bringing him back on a cheaper deal. Who else will run him out there nearly every day?

    • Ghettotrout1

      I said the same thing. I would rather have him totally gone but I do think that this will happen.

    • Muddycleats

      And if I am Billy, there’s no way I’d consider coming back 2 play for a non contender. I wouldn’t b surprised if he doesn’t make more than Arbitration estimate & have more fun doing it

      • Simon Cowell

        Zero chance he plays for a playoff team as an everyday player. Zero. Who will pay him 6 million to warm the pine? Not even NY

  3. DanD

    If available in Rule 5 I am curious is Richie Martin can play CF? defensively how is Adam Jones and how much would it take to sign him? Just a quick thought with not knowing who else is available as a FA.

  4. habesjn

    I’m shocked but also pleasantly surprised. $5.9 million seemed like a lot for how little Hamilton offered offensively. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s done in Cincinnati either. If no one is willing to offer him a starting spot (like how no one was willing to trade anything for him), then he may be willing to come back as a late inning defensive and pinch running replacement. Even that may not be worth the roster spot, but it could be worth looking into.

    I hope this clears the way for Senzel to be an every day starter from the beginning of the season (although I’m sure he’ll remain in Louisville for a bit in order to secure an extra year of service time).

    Overall, I’m happy with this non-tender, especially if it clears the way to signing a few impact pitchers. Dallas Keuchel seems like the perfect kind of pitcher for Cincinnati and could step into the salary space left by Homer after this year. If they find one more high impact pitcher (long reliever type or starter) via trade, this season could end up being a lot better than current projections may indicate.

    • MK

      Could it be that a quality pitcher might be less likely to sign now with poorer outfield defense behind him. The outfield defense is much weaker than at the start of 2018 with the loss of Duvall and Hamilton.

      • Jim t

        Wouldn’t they also be happy with the potential of a bit more offense in CF. while Billy saved a few runs he provided very few.

  5. Patrick

    This shows me how far the front office is lost in analytics and have no clue how to run a ball club.

  6. Norwood Nate

    A little surprised that they didn’t try to work out a trade, at least get cash considerations back. Maybe no takers. I’m glad to see the Reds move on, nonetheless.

    • Stock

      they still have time to make a trade. The Yankees DFA Torreyes earlier this week and traded him yesterday.

      • Norwood Nate

        I believe non-tendering him makes him a FA right away. Different than being designated for assignment.

      • Colorado Red

        Norwood is correct.
        This is not a DFA, it is a non-tender.
        Billy is now a Free-Agent.

    • Brock

      Sheldon on Twitter said they tried to trade him but there were no takers

      • Norwood Nate

        That makes sense. In hindsight it would have been nice if Big Bob didn’t block past attempts to trade Hamilton, at least then the Reds could have got some compensation back. The Reds have the hardest time trading guys when they should trade them. I think it goes back to the owner getting in the way.

  7. DocProc

    This is great, great news.
    My preference would be to put Peraza in CF and Senzel at SS. Yes, I know the team has said they don’t think Senzel’s a SS. But I’m convinced he could play that position (much) better than Peraza can, and I also think Peraza could play CF better than Senzel. Do with Peraza what they did with Billy–take those wheels out of the infield and put them in CF where they belong.

    • Bob Anderson

      Dude, Pereza is a crappy CF(makes him look good at SS) and Senzel is a crappy SS. Please stop, I mean, stop.

      This is analytics in action. The Reds don’t think Hamilton is worth 5-6 million.

      Here’s your warning, Bob. Clean up the language.

      • Ghettotrout1

        Bob how do you know that Peraza and Senzel are terrible at those positions? I can’t imagine you’ve personally seen them have a substantial amount of reps in either of those positions in order to come to a conclusion that you have. Not to be a total A-hole but per a quick review of fangraphs website Peraza has had a total of 16 games in CF over his career. I would have to say this would constitute a small sample size.

      • IndyRedsFan

        Bob Anderson,

        We don’t use foul language on this site. Clean it up.

  8. Kap

    I think they will sign a stopgap in center for a year or two (Jon Jay, Cameron Maybin) or trade for one (Micheal A Taylor, Kike Hernández) until Tammell, Friedl, or Siri is ready. Unless they are certain Senzel can play there every day

  9. AirborneJayJay

    Big Bob loves him some Billy Hamilton, the front office not so much. A bit of a shock.
    There is no one on the free agent market other than AJ Pollock that should be considered to replace Hamilton in CF. But he will cost twice as much as Hamilton would have. It is possible the Reds do consider Jon Jay for CF for 1 year and $3M to $4M. Though I don’t think it will be likely. Something will have to come down the pike in a trade.
    Schebler in CF for a whole season is just beyond stupid. That would be inviting a lot of scorn for Schebler every time a ball is hit into CF. But Schebler might also be on his way out of town via trade.
    Nothing at AAA to replace Hamilton. They let Gabby Guerrero and Mason Williams walk. I don’t see Siri coming into the picture until the following season.
    If Schebler is the starting CF, the over/under should be set at 100 for the number of times fans will say “Billy would have had that one” on balls hit to CF.

    • DrBagel

      My guess would be that they believe Senzel is capable enough to handle center next year

      • RedsinWashst

        Agreed, he’s a great athlete and he wants to play. Give him a shot.

  10. Greg


    Any ideas as to ?Why didnt they trade him before last year or at the deadline if they were going to non tender him. What a wasted opportunity?.

      • Colorado Red

        There was some interest. The Indians wanted him.
        Would not have gotten much back, a lottery ticket at best.
        Maybe big Bob, has decided to let Dick and company run the team.

  11. Jim t

    To me this is a clear indication that Senzel showed enough in the summer in a brief look that those observing thought he could play CF. at least until Siri or Trammel is ready. It also becomes apparent that Scooter will not be signed long term and after this year Trammel or Siri will be in CF and senzel at 2B. This saving more money to upgrade our pitching. Now go sign Dallas and Harvey. Offense upgraded and pitching upgraded without depleting our farm system. Big move will occur in 2020

  12. Tom

    Hamilton came on the scene as the wave crashed in 2014. Perhaps should have been on the playoff roster in 2013. Never moved the needle on all the bad teams. Just ready to move on, although there was never a nicer guy.

    • Bill

      Great points. Really fun player to watch, nice guy to root for, but the non-tender was the right move today.

  13. Jake Y.

    I’ll be interested to see if Hamilton is traded prior to the 8pm deadline. It seems as though there was trade interest in him as recently as this past season when the Reds reportedly wanted Heliot Ramos from SF in return.

    If he is non-tendered that will make Hamilton, Harvey, and Cozart this front office has let walk for no return whatsoever. For a rebuilding team that seems to be somewhat irresponsible.

  14. KyWilson1

    Seems like a waste to have gotten nothing for him, but hey, addition by subtraction.

    • Norwood Nate

      Well Big Bob blocked prior attempts to trade him. Back when we could have traded him for something. Now, teams will likely just try to sign him for cheaper than arbitration cost.

    • asinghoff

      Seems like more of a waste to have had him starting for 5 years.

  15. Jon Ryker

    This is a big mistake. Losing your best defender, in CF, and you best baserunner, and a guy who plays hard every day, and getting nothing for him, while guaranteeing to make the defense worse on a team that is trying to fix a major pitching problem is beyond short-sighted. I’m gonna assume this is analytic nonsense.

    They should have signed him and played him until one of their talented CF prospects is ready or until his value goes up to the point that you can get a good trade piece in return.

    • redleggingfordayz

      So how pretty much every other team besides the Orioles now work?

      • Jon Ryker

        If you try to run a small market team like bigger market teams, you lose. The only way this team is ever going to consistently succeed is to play small ball, defense, and have a lot of sinker ball pitchers. They still don’t understand this, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is true. Dumping players like this is a huge mistake. He will be severely missed by this team, and not just by the 20 fans that still watch their games.

    • Colorado Red

      Best base runner does not mean much, if he cannot get on base.
      His defense did not overcome his terrible Offense.

    • Jim t

      It’s been 5 years and the trade value is not good. Senzel may not be the answer your looking for defensively but for one year to get his bat in the line up until Trammel is ready is the right move. Senzel ‘s offense will more the even out what you lose defensively for Billy.

  16. Sabo

    Making the decision that the BH experiment is over is fine. But why release him now, when you’re probably in preliminary trade talks with lots of teams? Even if there was no interest in him as a primary trade target, might he not be a legitimate secondary piece in a trade for a P or CF? He’s arguably the best outfielder in the game and would seem to be a good 4th OF/late game pinch runner on a good team. Is there a reason they couldn’t hold him another few weeks to see if there could be any return?

    • Jasonp

      He was going to make around 6 mil next year. That is a lot of extra money for a team would have to take on as a second part of a trade. Especially if another team viewed him as a 4th outfielder/pitch runner and not as a starter.

    • sixpack2

      A lot of teams will want him at 1/2 million, no one wanted him a 6 million. That’s it. The reds can resign him if a playoff team does not offer him a contract fitting a 4/5 OFer.

  17. Oldtimer

    If he won’t start as CF in 2019, now was the time to release him. He has plenty of time to find a new team. He won’t have to go to Redsfest.

    CF has always been important spot for Reds. Vada Pinson 1959-68. Bobby Tolan 1969-72 except 1971. Cesar Geronimo 1973-79. Eric Davis from mid 1980s to early 1990s.

    Those are the only Reds CF to make WS in my lifetime (born 1951). Need another CF of their caliber. None in sight.

      • Oldtimer

        No CF of the caliber of Pinson, Nolan, Geronimo or Davis in Reds MiLB system art any level. None even close to those four. Made me LOL.

        Regardless of that, none of Reds CF prospects are in AA or AAA yet.

  18. Daytonian

    Sign something with Robbie Grossman, DFA’d by the Twins,, He’s a much better bat than BH and can capably handle CF, even if he’s been more of a corner OF in recent years. This would be an upgrade.

    And, while we’re at at, how about Boxberger for the ‘pen, but only if the terms are reasonable.

  19. AllTheHype

    Sounds like the Reds were set on making Senzel the CF and a 5.9M bench player does not make sense. Otherwise, he probably would have been tendered.

  20. Doc

    Since Senzel is coming off a shortened fall league, I wonder how long they will keep him at AAA before being comfortable he is back to being Senzel. The decision to bring him up may have more behind it than an extra year of control, especially if he gets off to a slow start.

    If it is all about pitching, then non-tendering Hamilton seems like a good move. $6MM in round numbers saved can help. If he could score 70 runs batting ninth with an OBP under .300, I wonder what someone hitting 40-50 points higher, with commensurate OBP improvements, can do, and how much of the difference in defense will be offset. With only 34 steals, his run scoring was likely a function of the hitters behind him more than it was his baserunning skills.

    Overall, when you win fewer than 70 games four straight years with one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, something has to change. Center field defense is not likely to put you over the hump. If it were, it would have.

    • Oldtimer

      His 5 year averages (BA, runs, SB, OBP) were higher than 2018. Players don’t perform exactly the same every year. BH isn’t great offensively but he is probably better than 2018 showed.

  21. Eric

    I would look at a couple of DBack non-tenders in Boxberger and Miller. I think Miller is due to bounce back in 2019.

  22. MikeinSoCal

    All these theories and no one mentioned Phillip Ervin. Unless the Reds have a trade in mind that will bring them pitching as well as a CF, might as well try Ervin. It’s a little confusing as it appears the reds are shopping for high end pitching and at the same creating holes in the line up. Though I agree BH is not worth 6.5 million, at the same time Winker is going to need all the help he can find from his fellow OFers. BH was great in that regard. I don’t get the timing of spending big this season on pitching when the reds aren’t ready to compete this season imo.

    • Bill

      Timing … leverage big investment in Votto who is getting older, fans no longer coming to the games (attendance is down 800K/year since 2014 costing almost $33M in revenue), solid core in place w/more on the way, professional franchise that should be trying to win.

  23. MK

    Hopefully Billy can go somewhere where the coaching staff can get through to him. Wonder if Reds didn’t ruin him from start with forcing switch hitting on him.

  24. Redsvol

    somebody will get more out of BHam than we have been able to – and there will be some angst over it on this site. However, I don’t disagree with the decision. We need to spend the $5.9 million elsewhere. The arbitration process stinks for the lower end guys in baseball like BHam because they simply aren’t worth the 2nd and 3rd year arbitration numbers. We can sign a free agent for much less and similar production.

    Now…..lets go get the pitching.

  25. MK

    Aristides Aquino, Juan Graterol, Jordan Patterson were also non tendered.

    • Bill

      Interesting; I wonder what the logic is with these moves? Why not just hold them until we needed the 40-man roster spots?

    • Oldtimer

      Hamilton, Aquino, and Patterson have already become free agents. No word on Graterol yet. Expect him to be FA too.

  26. Wes

    Free agents who get paid get paid right away. Those who don’t the price starts dropping. Pollock and kuechel being available still is excellent for reds.

    I think reds cut Hamilton bc they know they can get pollock

  27. sixpack2

    All Reds fans, Billy was not worth 6 million to give us what we got. He will sign, maybe us, for 1/2 million. We will have a CF in 2019 that will give us ok ‘D’ and more ‘O’. I think that is a guarantee.

  28. Bernie

    There is a real good article on on the proper way to use Hamilton to get the most of his abilites. Maybe the Reds can resign him at less money and use this method for his playing time.

  29. Doc

    I wonder how many of us can be ranked at or near the bottom of what we do for a living and be rewarded with a 28%+ raise, amounting to $1.3MM, for our efforts. I certainly know my profession never worked that way. Doug would probably throw a kegger, with wings, for a 28% revenue stream increase from the website next year, and he is closer to the best at what he does than he is to the worst. We are the ones who pay him, but seem to be freer spending other people’s money than our own!

    BH has been with the organization 10 years, including 5+ at the big league level. His career stats are stated above as being better than his 2018 stats, and that may be marginally true, but I suspect a statistical analysis would show 2018 was a statistically average, ie, within a standard deviation of his average BH year in most stats, and well below average in stolen bases. As a comparison, a golfer who has a 5 handicap and scores 74 one day and 80 the next is within the statistical variation; those are both statistically an average score for that player. BH has not had a positive trajectory, and whether 2018 was aberration, average, or trend, it was another not good value year to the team for the money being paid. They can lose 94-95 games with or without him, but they haven’t won 70 with him in four years. Insanity = doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different result.

  30. AllTheHype

    1. Trade Greene/Winker and lesser pieces for Kluber or Syndergaard. Probably better fit with Cleveland because they need OFs and WInker can also be DH some days.
    2. SIgn Keuchel or Happ
    3. Sign Cutch for LF
    4. Senzel to CF
    5. After the glut of FA 2B sign and depress the monetary value of that position, extend Scooter (ideally before arb hearing).
    6. Use prior SP prospects (Reed, Romano, etc) to shore up bullpen

    WIth the 6M saved from Billy and expanded payroll, should be able to do the above.

    • AllTheHype



      That team could compete.

  31. Moses

    How about a trade for Thor and Lagares, the latter whose contract they’re trying to shed, for:


    That would sting, and I wouldn’t give up anything more, but I’m guessing it could be appealing for both sides…

  32. redlegs4ever

    He’ll be back. For about 4 Million less so it was the right move.

  33. Simon Cowell

    People need to stop saying we didn’t get anything for Billy Hamilton. We picked up 5.9 million to go towards someone who can hit.