The San Francisco Giants traded two players to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen yesterday. Given the status conferred to McCutchen by his former MVP award and being the “face of the Pirates franchise,” the return for Pittsburgh seemed underwhelming. Bryan Reynolds is a switch-hitting outfielder who has solid but not elite potential as a prospect. Kyle Crick, a RHP, is the toss-in guy who might benefit from a change in pitching coach.

The question from the perspective of a Reds fan is what does the McCutchen trade indicate about the possibility of a trade with the Giants for Billy Hamilton? The Giants have long been rumored to be in talks with the Reds about their centerfielder.

Could the Giants use McCutchen in CF?

If the Giants decide to use McCutchen in centerfield, they no longer would need Billy Hamilton. But there’s serious question about Andrew McCutchen’s ability to play a positive defensive role in CF.

The Pirates had announced at the start of last year they were moving McCutchen to left field and Starling Marte to center. The move was overdue, as the Pirates felt that McCutchen’s defensive skills, which may have never been all that great anyhow, were in decline. Marte was a strong defensive outfielder. But then Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games due to a positive test result for PEDs. The Pirates had to change their plans and McCutchen ended up playing 139 games in CF.

San Francisco’s centerfield is large. Much bigger than Pittsburgh’s. The Giants finished next-to-last in outfield defense last year, so they really could benefit from an upgrade. It’s doubtful McCutchen, who had a negative defensive rating again last year, in CF offers that.

The Giants are also looking for a corner outfielder, so they could bump McCutchen to right field and acquire a defensive-oriented centerfielder. That could be Billy Hamilton.

Would the Reds receive a worse return for Hamilton than the Pirates got for McCutchen? 

Not necessarily. McCutchen is 31. Hamilton is 27. McCutchen becomes a free agent at the end of 2018. The Giants would have two years of control over Billy Hamilton. Most important, McCutchen’s salary is $14 million (the Pirates paid $2 million of it). While Billy Hamilton, who is still in his arbitration years, will earn only $4.6 million.

Over the past two seasons, Andrew McCutchen produced a total of 1.8 WAR (Baseball-Reference) or 4.3 WAR (FanGraphs), depending on the source. Billy Hamilton had total WAR of 3.8 (B-R) or 4.3 (FG) over that same time.

To summarize: McCutchen is older, can’t really play CF, is much more expensive, has one less year of team control and has produced less value than Billy Hamilton the past two years.

So the Reds could expect a better return for Hamilton than the Pirates got for Andrew McCutchen.

Couldn’t the Giants just sign a free agent CF?

Yes, but their payroll is right up against MLB’s soft salary cap. It has been reported that the Giants want to stay under that threshold this year. Hamilton would be substantially cheaper than Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and John Jay, the three most prominent free agent CF.

Doesn’t the Giants farm system stink?

Yes. Yes, it does. The Giants have one of the worst group of prospects in MLB. They’ve weakened it twice recently with trades for McCutchen and Evan Longoria. But there are still a couple players that would be of interest to the Reds. And the Reds can always trade Hamilton to a different team.

What’s the bottom line, will the Reds and Giants make a trade? 

Zach Buchanan of the Enquirer says the prospect of a Hamilton trade with the Giants was already doubtful. Recently, Reds owner Bob Castellini said he hoped Hamilton will be with the Reds forever. The market for Billy Hamilton, the softest hitter in the major leagues, was always pretty dicey.

Unlike left field (Adam Duvall-Jesse Winker) and second base (Scooter Gennett-Dilson Herrera/Nick Senzel), the Reds don’t have a player in the organization ready to take Billy Hamilton’s place in CF. Hamilton isn’t blocking anyone’s development.

On the other hand, unless the Reds plan to offer Billy Hamilton an extension, 2019 will be his last year with the Reds. This might be the best time to trade him, with two full years of control left. If the Reds can get something of value for him, they should do it.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 63 Comments

  1. I still say the chances remain about the same, which was about 50-50. It would be shocking if they made McCutchen play center. I know thew Reds want Heliot Ramos, which would be awesome, but I doubt they are willing to part with him. If a trade package of Austin Slater, Aramis Garcia, and Alexander Canario came along, that would be enough in my opinion.

    Keep in mind, the Giants were not the only team interested in Billy. Think the Rangers were also

  2. I believe if Hamilton went to Giants in trade there would probably have to be another team involved, possibly with another player involved, we have three good possibilities in Duvall, Schebler and Gennett. Otherwise I don’t see us getting much in return.

  3. Unless someone offers a good return for Hamilton there is no rush to trade him. The only options if he is traded are sign a free agent, which we know they are not going to do; put Schebler or ErvIn in CF until the Reds can acquire another CF. There is always the chance someone is desperate for a CF at the trade deadline and offers more than what the Reds can get today. Gennett or corner OF would be a more beneficial trade, but I am not sure they would return much value either. They would however open a spot for Winker and Senzel

  4. Good Afternoon Steve. Happy New Year. Know this is a bit off topic and has probably been discussed ad nauseum… but what do you think it would take for the Reds to acquire Yelich… and is he worth it. Has lots of control left.
    Never see the Reds included amongst the teams “kicking the tires.”
    Thanks

  5. If the best offer the Reds receive is the exact same return for Andrew McCutchen, do you make the deal now or keep Hamilton until the trade deadline or next offseason?

    • It seems like a pretty weak return. Crick looks like a sure bet middle reliever+ = maybe 1 war per year. I like Reynolds numbers and being a CF.

      This is likely close to what the Giants are offering for Hamilton. Maybe we should hold out for more as the FO is doing.

      Hamilton in the spacious outfield in SF is more valuable than gabp

    • I would hang onto him. From the Giants, and I’ve stated this since the rumors first popped up, the Reds need to hold out for Ramos or let things fizzle out.

  6. Good analysis. I think if he moves, it will be in a 3-team finagle. He fits the budget in SF and, as you noted, Cutch won’t do well in that massive CF out there.

  7. This was reported a few places last night….Pence in LF, McCutchen in RF for Giants.

    http://www.sfgate.com/giants/article/Giants-say-Andrew-McCutchen-to-play-right-field-12502265.php?utm_campaign=twitter-desktop&utm_source=CMS%20Sharing%20Button&utm_medium=social

    The trend (Springer, Blackmon, Yelich, etc) is going to towards taking the offense and its greater upside, live with average to slightly poor defense in CF.

    The Giants, attempting to stave off an extended re-build with a last run, appear to be the only serious suitor.

    It speaks volumes on Hamilton’s perceived value in MLB offices (other than Castellini’s).

    Deal him ASAP for any reasonable value.

  8. The time is ripe for the Reds (my #1 team) to make another trade with my hometown Marlins (my #2 team) for Yelich. The latest reports of Yelich’s frustrations and Jeter’s Project Wolverine financial plan to profitability makes this a real confluence of needs that helps both clubs. Offer Billy and a couple of our young pitching prospects

    Yelich’s OBP, BA, and solid defensive range will be a welcomed addition to the Reds batting lineup either to hit in front of or behind Votto. He would be a lights improvement over BH or Schleber. BH’s defense and speed is even better suited for the vast outfield of Marlins ballpark. What’s more the Reds have a glut of young pitching and the Marlins are desperate for them.

    • Yelich can be a franchise cornerstone piece for the Reds for the next few years since he is young (26), consistent, and locked in at a very affordable contract.

      • Now that the Reds have such a juicy farm system, it’s hard to believe the Marlins wouldn’t be interested in a trade. They might even take Billy with some top prospects. Is our FO talking with them? Haven’t seen any reports about it. Another question, has the price for Yelich gone down now since he’s seeking a trade?

        • Bet they are not even considering it.
          28 other teams want to trade for him, dumb DW does not

    • Hamilton, Duval (replacing lost players from Marlins’ roster purge), and either Bob Steve or Cody Reed or both for Yelich. Outfield of Schebler (RF), Winker (LF), Yelich (C), Ervin (backup) sounds nice. Then later when Siri and Trammel (and others) are ready, you have tradeable pieces and a nice pipeline to the majors.

      • Oh yeah trade a below average centerfielder, diabetic 30 year old leftfielder and 2 pitchers that have shown nothing for a allstar centerfielder. What is Miami waiting for?

        • Agree… That conversation is going to start with Senzel. I suppose it’s not impossible that it may not require Senzel since the Reds have a good depth of prospects to trade from; but it likely will. Why? Because a lot of teams want Yelich and someone is going to be willing to give up a gem + 2-3 other solids to get it done.

        • True, the Marlins will not want to settle for bottom of the barrel prospects. But they have settled for less than top prospects for Stanton and Ozuna, who are better players than Yelich. Right now, there most important priority is to shed salary. If DW offers Billy H., R Iglesias, and young rotation arm (Steve Mancuso has also written about this in an earlier post), I believe that would entice Jeter.

          It is doable without hurting the Reds long-term.

  9. Deal Hamilton and use prospects to flip to Miami for Yelich to minimize the impact on our farm. Get Yelich NO MATTER WHAT!!!

    • What prospect is Hamilton going to get that would make the Marlins want to trade Yelich?

  10. There might be a market for Hamilton in late July- when teams are being pressured to do something to secure a post-season spot. Hamilton could be a great pick up to a playoff team. I don’t think the return is anything more than a solid AA pitcher who projects as a 4/5 starter or a good AAA reliever.

    The bigger issue is the Reds don’t have a ready replacement and still need 2 seasons to see if Jose Siri can hit AA pitching and reach a potentially high ceiling and ensure the development of Taylor Trammell. Plus, Bob Castellini has said things about Hamilton he hasn’t said about any player on the roster “keep him forever”- so clearly Castellini and his ownership group are stepping in and pulling rank on the baseball operations team to keep Hamilton playing CF for the Reds.

    • All this talk about the Reds new approach to analytics then they keep Billy to patrol one of the smallest (if not the smallest?) outfield in mlb? Billy’s great speed usually means he can get to the wall and watch the 390 ft homers from a shorter distance away then the average CFer. What good is that? He literally would be more effective defensively for almost any other team in baseball.

  11. Ok, so, since a trade with SF is “doubtful” are there any other teams that have a bona fide interest in Hamilton?

    • It doesn’t appear that their is anyone other than the Giants, at least for what the asking price is. I am sure someone would take him for some lesser prospects

    • The Rangers have long had interest, and I believe popped back up on the Hamilton rumor mill earlier this offseason. I feel like I’ve read the Rockies could have interest as well.

      • No chance on the Rockies.
        They have Charlie in CF there.
        Charlie is above average, and a great hitter (at coors).
        Maybe if he goes FA, after the season, but now now.

    • This offseason I’ve read that the Rangers, A’s, Royals, Tigers, and Dodgers have had interest in Hamilton; the Jays, Rox, White Sox, Mets, Snakes to a lesser degree. I don’t know how anyone can say what team has a “bona fide” interest other than SF.

  12. Come on guys. We’ve gotta let this Yelich thing go. The Reds will not trade for him or probably will never think about it, although they could if they choose to. He’ll be a dodger or a Cub or something

    • +💯

    • The Cubs had old man John Jay in CF last year. Yelich def seems like a fit there. They’d just pay him Hayward’s $ when the time comes.

    • Why? Until this front office does something to truly improve this club or the on-field accomplishments show us fans that they are worthy of our dollars, we will continue to wish (or demand) something better.

      I am always perplexed why some Red’s fans are so easily convinced that the front office is really doing something. Fans of east coast teams are not so easily buffaloed.

    • “…although they could if they choose to.” This sounds like you believe the FO is a dithering collection of incompetence afraid of it’s own shadow and therefore predisposed to inaction.

      You’re correct.

      • I am concerned that DW wants the moon for every player.
        Thus, nothing for Zack, etc

        • Zach had almost no value to start the year, coming off injury. When the deadline came around, he was hurt again. Just bad timing in this instance.

        • It not nothing absolutely. Shedding salary to sign other FA or one’s own players is something. The problem is when the team does not use the salary to sign other solid players.

  13. This return for Mccutchen is pretty weak. So I’m assuming the offer for Hamilton isn’t much different. So a key question for us fans is would you take this same offer or less?

    I say hold out for more.

  14. Not that he’s a CF, but the Reds should be out there targeting guys like Suarez from teams that are rebuilding. Nick Castellanos fills that bill! He’s not a good def 3B, but they could stick him in the OF and he could get by. He’ll be 26 in March and had a .811 ops last year. Led the AL in triples with 10 and 26 bombs. I read somewhere that he led MLB in 380+ foot outs. He could explode in GABP! Do something? Give us a reason to watch this team past May this year!

    • Again! Outside the box thinking, I love it!

      Alas, one can only hope the Red’s front office will one day learn to think outside the box.

    • Moving Suarez now is a good play with Senzinnati on the cusp. Teams like the Tigers, Braves, Mets, Marlins and Cards (which has been discussed on this forum) have the need for a solid third baseman. Depending on other moves within their orgs the Yanks, O’s, Indians, Royals, White Sox and Pirates may also have interest.

  15. All the talk from BC & the FO about how big a asset to a team is reminds me of a parent tell a child how good some food taste after they took a bite & don’t like it. Baseball GEms know what he can & can’t do, they are mot snowing anyone.

  16. TRADE FOR YELICH. Overpay if you have to. Include Greene. Do it. DO IT.

  17. I think the only way Hamilton gets traded is if he is packaged with a more desirable player such as Suarez or Iglesias. As for a Yelich trade, I think the Marlins are going to want Greene (unfortunately) along with Trammell and maybe 2 other players.

  18. I’m sorry, but the guy has proven over and over he can’t get on base. He can’t hit and he can’t bunt. He is an excellent CF. However, the Reds would be lucky if they got a bucket of baseballs for him.

  19. Why cant they give Ervin a shot at CF? Why does everyone keep saying they have no one to play in CF this year. They aren’t contending. Who cares. Play Ervin and if it doesn’t work, address it next off season when you are trying to compete.

    • The Reds could let Ervin or Schebler play CF, and probably will have to give them time in CF when Hamilton gets injured on a dive. My opinion has always been keep Hamilton as the pinch runner and defensive replacement and give him starts in the places out west with huge outfields where his defense is more valuable. This gives flexibility to adjust as needed.

      What everyone is afraid of is that Hamilton leads off all year with a sub .300 OBP, Schebler doesn’t have the defense for CF and Ervin is nothing more than an insurance policy and spot starter. There really is no one on the roster who plays CF who has been tearing up AAA and is just waiting for Hamilton to get traded.

  20. In regards to acquiring Yelich, I’d be all for trading Duvall and Hamilton for him. Throw in either Reed or Garrett or both as sweetness. This would open up playing time in left for Winker as well.

      • zero chance the Marlins do anything like that.
        to get Yelich you are talking more like greene or senzel plus more

        • No Greene or Senzel

          If that is what it takes I am content without him

          Yelich is good but not the only player on the planet.

          We will not be drafting Senzels or Greenes for another 15 years

  21. If the Giants decide to use McCutchen in centerfield….

    No “if” anymore. He’s going to to play RF. Pence as already agreed to move to LF so they do need a CF but looking more at Cain and Maybin than Hamilton. Besides, the Reds asked for Ramos and the Giants couldn’t hang up the phone fast enough.

    • It’s going to be pay up one way or another for the Giants. They either swing a trade for an affordable glove like Hamilton (maybe a 3-team deal makes more sense) or they pay for one of the others. They’ve built out LF and RF … but that’s a YUUUGE gap in the middle that needs some fast legs and a good arm.

  22. All the talk about Yelich but I really think Kevin Kiermaier is a better alternative with all things considered. He’s a little older then Yelich but a .851 ops vs righties last year and the best defensive CF in baseball. I really doubt he’s better then Billy but he’s good. He’s also signed thru 2023 at a max of 13/mil season. He would cost a lot (same as Yelich) but could really improve the team. He’s also from Indiana and might like that aspect!

  23. I like KK as an alternative to Yelich. But Tampa Bay isn’t going to let him go cheaply. The good thing about Tampa as a trade partner over Miami is that Tampa probably would want some ML ready talent in a trade package. Scott Schebler would be one that would interest Tampa with 5 years of team control left. Schebler could flourish in Tampa as a DH/OF. One of Stephenson, Romano or Mahle would probably have to be included too, all with 6 years of team control still to go. Then a couple of top-15 prospects would have to be included.
    A trade for Yelich and a trade for Kiermaier would be 2 entirely different trade packages the Reds would have to put together. I still favor getting Yelich over Kiermaier by a slight margin. But getting Yelich will almost certainly cost Hunter Greene in that package to Miami.

  24. Unless a hot prospect with plus defense and more able on-base/slugging skills comes along, I like keeping Sliding Billy as the starting CF against righthanders and a judicious mid-to-late inning replacement of one of the other outfielders as a baserunner who stays in the game defensively. I actually see this as a strategy that could propel him to more runs scored and more steals than he’s amassed as an-almost-everyday starter.

    Harkening back to his late season debut (when he had more steals than at bats), this strategy would utilize his defense from jump street against the majority of (right-handed) starters, and in the games against lefties (during which he often was skunked), he’ll get a near-guaranteed on-base opportunity and chance to steal. I really could see this upping his BA, SB totals and definitely runs scored. The idea of continually putting him in against pitchers who overmatch him brings little benefit.

    Seems like a “less is more” strategy.

  25. I am in the minority here but our best trade pieces are Senzel and Winker. Watching these guys play in the minors. They can hit but their fielding isn’t very good. I don’t think Senzel can play 2nd. Definitely not ss.

    Winker is not a very good outfielder.

    I think we stick with Duvall Hamilton Shebler and Ervin for the next couple of years until Siri a Trammel are ready. Then we can get creative with our 3rd and fourth outfielders.

    • Senzel was just recognized as being the best defensive 3B in the minors

      • I read that also. I would like the Reds to insert him at 3rd to start the season, and either move Suarez to SS or put him on the block and keep Peraza.

  26. I think Suarez has earned the third base job, but I think he’s the type of guy that would be willing to move to another position if it was best for the team.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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