The Reds are having active trade discussions with teams interested in acquiring center fielder Billy Hamilton, TheAthletic.com's Ken Rosenthal said Wednesday on MLB Network.
In Rosenthal's opinion, the Mets, Giants, Rangers, amd Mariners are likely interested in Hamilton, who is generating a lot of interest because he is expected to earn roughly $5 million next season.
"The Reds don't have to move him, though," Rosenthal adds. "They can see what happens in the first half and them move him at the deadline when he'll still be available for two pennant races."
In either case, be it this winter or next summer, Rosenthal believes the Reds will move Hamilton the as soon as they are presented with an acceptable deal.
Hamilton, 27, is eligible for arbitration through 2019, after which he can become a free agent.
His offensive numbers are not that impressive. However, his value is set in his fielding and speed around the base paths. He's not just fast, though, he's also smart. He gets good jumps, is aggressive but intelligent, and goes from second-to-home as well as anyone I've ever seen in person.
According to MLB's StatCast, Hamilton is the second-fastest sprinter in the game behind Byron Buxton. He has swiped at least 56 bases in four different seasons and is notorious for disrupting opposing pitchers with his antics around the infield. Similarly, FanGraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com both rate him among the top defensive center fielders in the game.
The thing is, despite more than 2,000 plate appearances, he has not shown much growth as a hitter.
The Giants, Dodgers, Mets, and Royals seem to fit his game best, given their roster, lineup construction, overall need and ballpark. Obviously, if the Giants acquire Giancarlo Stanton, it's unlikely they'll trade for another outfielder. In fact, with Stanton, I hear they may actually start trading away outfielders (Hunter Pence, Denard Span), not acquiring more of them.
Sep 1, 2017; Hamilton (6) runs the bases against at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Honestly, I have no idea how to mock up a trade to get Hamilton, especially given he had his worst overall year in 2017 since becoming an everyday player four years ago. He's such a unicorn in today's game -- and up and down in his overall production -- that it's difficult to know how he's being valued by the Reds or the acquiring team.
That said, whether he's making contact or not, the kid can fly, catch the ball and run all day. And so, because they're in full-blown rebuilding mode, it's safe to assume Cincinnati is only looking for prospects and not expecting a big-league player in return. However, how many prospects and of what caliber, I just don't know...
The only scout to get back to me said -- if he were the Mets -- he'd be buying Hamilton. In this one person's opinion, Hamilton profiles as someone that can thrive in a big market, with a young team, new manager, big ballpark, etc., and -- at 27 years old -- may be at a point that he begins to put his hit tool together in a more mature way.
"He's an exciting player that would impact that team in ways that are more significant than just batting average and home runs," the scout told me. "It would also be great to see how he'd respond to New York."
If the Mets see it the same way, I'd push for Hamilton and use Juan Lagares, Robert Gsellman and prospects to go get an established second, third or first baseman.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...