There is hardly anything in common between how Billy Hamilton plays the game of baseball and how Jesse Winker does. Elite speed, elite defense, a throwing arm from the OF that’s gaining a reputation, and the occasional slap hit define how Billy’s carved out his career, while Winker burst into the Cincinnati Reds’ lineup with hitting, hitting, and pretty much just that - hitting.
So, it admittedly sounds a bit weird to suggest that Winker’s emergence might have Hamilton’s playing days in Cincinnati numbered, since one is not the other’s direct replacement. However, the moving parts the Reds have in their OF at the moment paired with Hamilton’s dwindling team control have folks wondering if the Reds would consider trading their stalwart CF - especially given his increasing salary. MLB Trade Rumors dug into the idea over the weekend, speculating that his underwhelming 2017 season, escalating arbitration salary, and just two years remaining of team control might lead the Reds to shop him this coming winter.
MLBTR lands on the San Francisco Giants as a possible trade partner, and does so based on solid logic. The fact is, finding a home ballpark with a centerfield big enough to let Hamilton’s greatest skill - his defense - shine makes all the sense in the world; beyond that home park, however, must come a team that’s intent on contending during the two years Billy’s still under team control, and that team must have poor enough existing CF defense that adding Billy represents a significant improvment. On paper, San Francisco fits that description, with the likes of Hunter Pence, Denard Span, and Brandon Belt not known for their defense at this point and the Giants looking to bounce back from a dismal 2017 season.
The reality is, though, that Billy probably doesn’t have nearly as much trade value at the moment as the Reds would wish. His second year of arbitration eligibility has him estimated to earn around $5 million in 2017, and that will rise to some $7-8 million for the 2018 season. In other words, he’ll come with what amounts to $12-13 million in estimated salary for his two years combined. That would’ve looked like a relative bargain off a 3.1 fWAR/2.8 bWAR season like he posted in 2016, but instead will come on the heels of the 1.2 fWAR/1.0 bWAR production from 2017. That salary for that latter production isn’t outlandish by any means - and the 2016 season he posted certainly shows there could be ample upside there - but if the 2017 season is the one used as leverage by the acquiring team, his future salary obligations and current level of production seem at roughly a break-even point. That’s fine if he were to be simply signed as a free agent, but expecting a team to take on that obligation and trade something of value to acquire it is a bit harder to fathom.
In other words, a team like the Giants might welcome paying Billy $12-13 million over two years, but they’re not going to surrender Tyler Beede (or his ilk) for that opportunity. Couple that with the already shallow pool of teams that might have interest in Billy and it might behoove the Reds to hold onto him to begin the 2018 season to see if he can increase his value even if trading him is ultimately what they’d like to do.
In other news, The Enquirer beats spoke at length with GM Dick Williams about the 2017 season, the state of the rebuild, Hamilton himself, top prospect Nick Senzel, and much more over the weekend, and the transcript of the conversation is well worth reading through. If there’s one theme that seems to pervade the GM’s comments, it’s that rebuilds usually aren’t linear - this one included. That was echoed by Williams to both C. Trent and Zach on Friday, too, when Williams indicated pretty clearly that he doesn’t think the Reds have reached the point where making a big move in the acquisition market will be the difference in getting back into contention, yet.
Blowing past their international spending limits a year ago to sign Alfredo Rodriguez and Vlad Gutierrez left the Reds with significant spending restrictions this most recent calendar year. Therefore, there weren’t a lot of big-spending splashes that made news. However, Italian-born Leonardo Seminati was one of the players inked, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo profiled his prominent first displays in instructional league play.
The Reds are hiring a Baseball Operations Data Scientist, in case you happen to be interested.
Finally, it has been rumored that the Miami Marlins will look to shed significant payroll obligations as they transition to their new ownership group. While that has rightfully put the massive contract of Giancarlo Stanton into major discussion, it’s also put a bit of a spotlight on the other talented players on the Marlins roster with money guaranteed their way. One such player: OF Christian Yelich, who you may or may not have heard me talk about effusively non-stop since back in 2012. With as much as five more years under contract at roughly $58 million, the 25 year old would be a lovely fit in CF and atop any team’s lineup during his prime at a totally reasonable rate, which should make interest in him a priority for most every team in the game. Doug Gray wondered what you would trade from the Reds’ system to acquire him, whereas my answer (absolutely anything and everything) is pretty well clear.