Stunning news. New broom sweeping clean.
#Reds will non-tender OF Billy Hamilton
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) November 30, 2018
This means the Reds have decided not to go to arbitration for Hamilton’s 2019 services. The speedy CF will become a free agent. Hamilton had been projected to make about $5.9 million in his last year with the Reds. He made $4.6 million last year.
The Reds were never able or willing to find a trade partner for Hamilton. There were rumors last offseason and again last summer about the Reds talking with contending teams. But recent reporting by Ken Rosenthal suggests what we’ve suspected for years, that Reds owner Bob Castellini was blocking a trade of Hamilton.
“According to sources, owner Bob Castellini finally is willing to approve a deal of Hamilton, whom the Reds resisted trading in the past in part because Castellini perceived him as a fan favorite.”
Also, this from the last trade deadline:
The #Indians want to upgrade in CF, but it's a thin market. Adam Jones is most likely staying put. Leonys Martin is out there, but he's had hamstring issues and struggles vs. lefties. Billy Hamilton is hitting .227, and the #Reds never seem interested in discussing him anyway.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 30, 2018
Per the news today, the Reds will get nothing for Billy Hamilton.
Hamilton will become a free agent. According to a source, #reds explored trading him and found no interested teams.
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) November 30, 2018
Last June I wrote a farewell, of sorts, for Hamilton.
“If the Reds can’t find a trade partner, they should understand what that means and release Hamilton at the end of the season. He’s due a third year of arbitration and already makes $4.6 million. If Schebler can’t hack it in center, the Reds can build the bridge to Taylor Trammell or a major trade acquisition by signing a cheap free agent for 2019.
It’s time to move on from Billy Hamilton. It won’t be a sudden good-bye, nor should it be. In a sense, the Reds have already buried him. You can’t get lower than batting after the pitcher. But Hamilton will continue to take the field in a Cincinnati uniform for a while. He’ll still make wonderful plays, get big hits, maybe even string together a couple good games.
And like that bag he pilfered five years ago off the Cardinals’ villainous catcher, Billy Hamilton will steal our hearts again, for another phenomenal moment.”
In August, Jordan Barhorst recommended the same course of action, if the Reds were to start thinking like a winning team:
“The Reds wouldn’t need to release Hamilton or take on any penalties for removing him from the roster. They simply only need not to tender Hamilton an arbitration offer, and once the deadline hits, he’ll be a free agent. The Reds won’t be forced to pay $6M+ for the fourth worst offensive player in the league.
I understand that it’s tough not only for the front-office, but for Reds fans to think this way. However, if the Reds are ever going to win another World Series, they’ll need to start thinking a little bit more like the teams that are winning championship. I’ll never refute the fact that Billy Hamilton can be absolutely electrifying to watch, but he simply isn’t valuable enough to take up the roster spot of a more complete player.”
Nick Kirby wrote about Hamilton in September, suggesting the Reds feature him as a pinch runner and late-inning defensive sub:
“The Reds could have quite the weapon if they used him this way over a full-season. Hamilton would easily be worth the $7 million or so he will cost in 2019 if used this way, but there is certainly an argument that the Reds should allocate money elsewhere.
The Reds right now should be using Hamilton as pinch-runner/late inning defensive replacement to get a better data sample of the value of that, and giving guys like Scott Schebler and Phillip Ervin a shot to play CF. Both players probably can’t play good enough defensively to play there everyday, but the Reds should at least be making sure of that now while there is nothing to lose.”
Hamilton, who recently turned 28, hit .245/.298/.333 in his career with the Reds, starting in 2013.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati 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. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.