As the off-season progresses, so does the Cincinnati Reds plan to trade center fielder Billy Hamilton.
The Cincinnati Reds have fielded offers for their center fielder each of the past two off-seasons. This off-season, twice it appeared that a deal was imminent prior to the San Francisco Giants making another move. Now, both teams are closer to wanting to make a deal work than ever before.
Things have been quiet on the Hamilton front for a while. His arbitration eligibility caused a bit of this. So did the Giants pursuit of former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Having gotten past both of those, the teams should determine whether they are a fit shortly.
The largest piece of recent news is that Hamilton’s salary number came in at $4.6-million, as he and the Reds agreed prior to arbitration. That is just below the report number of $4.8-million that the Giants have available to spend on a center fielder. Anymore and they would hit the luxury tax threshold.
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The talks have reportedly gone dormant between the Giants and the Reds, but with the other moving pieces that is expected. Not to mention, the players involved will have changed as Kyle Crick is with the Pirates and Christian Arroyo is in Tampa Bay. That leaves Heliot Ramos, the Giants’ third ranked prospect, as the player the Reds want in exchange at this time.
With the Cincinnati Reds interested in a player the San Francisco Giants don’t want to move, other teams may make better sense.
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The Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers are both looking for center fielders. Both teams currently have speedsters with average defensive skills playing center right now. Keon Broxton of the Brewers was in and out of the line-up last year, while Delino DeShields had a breakout year for the Rangers.
The Brewers are in a similar situation as the New York Mets. Neither team sees Hamilton as enough of an upgrade to warrant the trade. Unless Broxton moves on, the Brewers have little reason to make a trade inside of their own division.
That leaves the Rangers as a potential landing spot for Hamilton. Currently, they plan on playing former Red Shin-soo Choo at DH and slugging prospect Willie Calhoun in left. Trading for Hamilton, so DeShields could play left and stay atop the line-up makes sense.
The Reds are scrambling a bit, including thinking about who would bat lead-off. If Hamilton stays in Cincinnati, the outfield playing time will be tight. Maybe Adam Duvall will return to third base and Eugenio Suarez to shortstop after all.