Cincinnati Reds face the Billy Hamilton playing time decision

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

After not trading away Billy Hamilton during the off-season, the Cincinnati Reds just delayed the inevitable decision.

Because the Cincinnati Reds didn’t move an outfielder this off-season they now have a playing time issue.  Not only do they have four outfielders that are starting level quality players, but they also signed Ben Revere to a minor league deal.  Add to that the presence of three more outfielders that could all be ready for playing time by the end of 2018 and the Reds have too many outfielders.

The decision that the Reds must face is whether center fielder Billy Hamilton will be a long-time Red.  If he is the chip around which the Reds want to build their team for the next five years, they should sign him to an extension.  Otherwise they need to move on from Hamilton.

If they think Hamilton is the core player, Adam Duvall needs to get moved.  There is no reason to take time away from Jesse Winker, whom Hamilton could back-up this season, and Scott Schebler. Not to mention the earlier the Reds trade him, the more that they will get for him.

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The reason to keep Hamilton is simple, his defense, after getting over coached offensively.  He is not an offensive weapon beyond stealing bases. If they think the rest of the options are so inferior defensively, then Hamilton could stay.

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The Cincinnati Reds need to keep turning the roster over in order to get competitive.

By not trading one of the four outfielders this off-season, the Reds have put the rebuild in jeopardy.  A team in a market like Cincinnati needs to focus on eight strong starters and a bench of retreads or young prospects.  A player like Winker needs to be a starter, not a bench player.

By keeping Hamilton, they are paying too much for a center fielder that doesn’t appear to be in the long term plans.  It also is wasting the service time of the other three outfielders that are inching towards arbitration and free agency themselves.  

This is a lose-lose scenario.

They also aren’t adding more talent for the next generation.  A small market team needs to maximize the number of prospects that have a chance to be a superstar.  Average players need to move on for the chance to get the next Joey Votto or Raisel Iglesias.

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The Reds need to make the decision about which three outfielders to keep for the future.  Then they move on from the fourth. Hamilton is the first outfielder that the Reds must decide about.