The San Francisco Giants and outfielder Billy Hamilton have been connected on the rumor circuit for sometime now, with the elite defender a seemingly perfect fit for the expansive outfield of AT&T Park. We touched on the rumors two weeks ago, when the Giants and Cincinnati Reds were reportedly in advanced discussions regarding Hamilton at MLB’s Winter Meetings.
As it turns out, those talks are still ongoing, as FOX’s Jon Morosi relayed Tuesday evening.
The hangup to this point has been the two teams’ inability to settle on a trade package that suits both sides. San Francisco sports a system headlined by talented young outfielder Heliot Ramos and near MLB-ready pitcher Tyler Beede, but behind that stands a farm that’s ranked among the worst in all of baseball. Hamilton, it would appear, isn’t likely to bring either Ramos or Beede in return, which means moving him would require Cincinnati to accept a quantity-driven package in exchange, and they’re not particularly inclined to agree to such a deal at this point.
However, it seems that impasse hasn’t completely derailed the talks between the two teams, which is encouraging to a point.
The Giants sported the single worst outfield defense in the NL in 2017, so it’s no surprise that they’re inclined to stay active on the Hamilton front. However, with the likes of Cameron Maybin, Jarrod Dyson, Peter Bourjos, and Austin Jackson still on the free agent market, there are at least a few potentially cromulent options to replace the traded Denard Span as the Giants’ primary defense-first centerfield option should the Reds’ demands remain high. Those, of course, would presume Lorenzo Cain is out of play for San Francisco, though the former Kansas City Royal has long been seen as a perfect fit for the Giants and their burgeoning payroll.
The Reds, though, fall into that similar boat as well. Trading away Hamilton would leave them with their own void in centerfield, one that would also then presumably send them into the veteran free agent market in an attempt to backfill Billy’s absence. So, in a way, these two teams are both eyeing a similar market and are merely attempting to put their respective valuations on the same page, at which point a series of moves may then take place. However, there’s still the obvious chance that they’ll never see eye to eye on the exact value of Hamilton, which appears to be why this is all still in the rumor stage instead of the transaction one.
What is clear is that the Reds are certainly willing to listen to offers on their established players, particularly Hamilton. With his salary increasing, his career OBP still on the wrong side of .300, and only two years of team control remaining, it’s probably prudent for the Reds to be shopping him for the right kind of return. But with no particularly immediate urgency to move him, they’re finally in a position to hold on to their guy and wait for the right kind of offer.