The Cincinnati Reds are in full rebuilding mode and have reportedly made speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton available for trade.
It’s no surprise that the Cincinnati Reds are weighing offers for the majority of their roster, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Insider) that Billy Hamilton could be among the players on their way out the door this offseason.
Hamilton, 26, just wrapped up the best season of his young career, hitting .260/.321/.343 with 25 extra-base hits and 58 stolen bases in 119 games. An oblique injury he suffered in early September ended his 2016 campaign prematurely, but nevertheless his steps forward at the plate could be enticing for other teams.
There are few options available with the kind of upside Hamilton presents. While he has yet to put together an All-Star season, he is one of the fastest players in baseball and grades as a plus-defender.
The trade market has a few top-tier outfielders still up for grabs. The Tigers are looking into the possibility of trading J.D. Martinez. Milwaukee is hoping to dump Ryan Braun’s contract while the Rockies could entertain the possibility of letting go of Carlos Gonzalez. Hamilton is the youngest of them all and is still in the arbitration phase of his career.
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With three years remaining on Hamilton’s contract, the move makes sense for Cincinnati. The Reds aren’t expected to compete in a tough NL Central anytime in the near future, meaning the early years of Hamilton’s prime would be wasted on a likely last place team. His stock hasn’t been as high as it is right now since he was a highly-touted prospect dubbed the next Rickey Henderson.
There are several teams that stand out as potential landing spots for the young center fielder. The Nationals are currently seeking an outfielder, and just the idea of pairing Hamilton and young phenom Trea Turner at the top of their lineup should make the rest of the NL shudder. Houston, who apparently made a serious offer to Yoenis Cespedes before he re-signed with the Mets, also has the prospects to make a deal happen.
If Hamilton does get dealt, the Reds aren’t going to be settling for low-end prospects. The team could find more value in prospects who are still a year or two away from the majors more than some other clubs would, but the talent would have to be first round caliber. It remains to be seen if Hamilton does end up getting moved, but the fact that they’re listening certainly indicates they’re entertaining the thought.