The Billy Hamilton era in Cincinnati initially ended when the speedy CF was non-tendered at the end of November, but there was at least some speculation that the Reds would be willing to bring Hamilton back at a reduced rate under the right circumstances. That, though, also appears to now be bunk, as Hamilton is reportedly on the cusp of agreeing to a contract with the Kansas City Royals, as Fancred’s Jon Heyman relayed earlier on Monday.
KC, Billy Hamilton have agreed on base pay and are finalizing deal with performance bonuses. Expected to be close to 5M total. Royals need speed in center.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2018
What’s important to note here is that potential salary, which on the surface doesn’t look too dissimilar from the projected $5.7 million that Hamilton was set to earn in his final year of arbitration with the Reds. The difference, though, is that the Royals can set it rife with those all-important ‘performance bonuses,’ which the Reds couldn’t build in to a basic arb-eligible deal. In other words, it’s likely that the Royals will only be on the hook for a guaranteed salary of some $2 million, or so, and Hamilton will only reach that loftier amount if he a) stays healthy, which he’s struggled to do for a full season, b) returns to the stolen base juggernaut he was prior to 2018, and c) actually brings home some defensive hardware, which somehow eluded him in his tenure with the Reds.
In Kansas City, he just might have more of an option for the latter specifically, as their spacious outfield might just be exactly what it takes for his otherworldly defense to finally look a tier above his peers in the defensive metrics next year.
As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan noted, the Royals projected outfield defense would be rather extraordinary on paper for the 2019 season, which is quite true. Of course, the offense that trio projects to provide might well make it the most punchless in all baseball for the rebuilding Royals, but it certainly will have quite the ability to help their pitching steal outs.
CF Billy Hamilton and the Royals are finalizing a one-year, $5M+ deal, sources tell Yahoo Sports. With Hamilton, Alex Gordon and Brett Phillips, Royals will have the best defensive outfield in baseball, alongside the Andrew Benintendi-Jackie Bradley-Mookie Betts crew in Boston.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 10, 2018
Best of luck to Billy as he takes on the AL regularly for the first time in his career.