Jon Morosi just reported that the San Francisco Giants are showing interest in Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton.
Sources: #SFGiants have shown interest in #Reds CF Billy Hamilton on trade market. Bobby Evans looking for ways to improve outfield defense; Jackie Bradley Jr. is another option, as previously reported. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 13, 2017
The Giants outfield defense was terrible in 2017. So being interested in an elite defender like Billy Hamilton makes a lot of sense. The ballpark in San Francisco has enormous gaps and is deep in center. There’s a lot of room to cover and Billy Hamilton does so with the best defenders in baseball.
Billy Hamilton is under contract for the next two seasons and is arbitration eligible. Two seasons ago he had the best year of his career at the plate, hitting .260/.321/.343. Last season, though, was the second worst of his career as he hit just .247/.299/.335.
Where Billy Hamilton brings his value is on the bases and in the field. He’s among the best in baseball in both categories. But, he is also among the worst in baseball at the plate. There’s a lot of give and a lot of take to his game. He is at the extremes of the spectrum.
Before getting into what the Giants could offer, we need to ask what the Reds would do in center if they traded Billy Hamilton. The team doesn’t seem to think that Scott Schebler is an everyday center fielder. They didn’t seem to give much time to Phillip Ervin as an option late in the year when they needed a center fielder. It would seem that if the team were to trade Hamilton that they would also need to go outside of the organization to acquire someone else to play in center field.
I will be honest: It’s tough for me to gauge exactly what the trade value for Billy Hamilton would be. He’s clearly a useful piece, but he also doesn’t seem like a difference maker because of just how much he struggles offensively. Despite that, given just how good he is defensively, a team like the Giants with so much ground to cover in center, he could provide far more value there than in Cincinnati.
The Baseball America Midseason Top 10 rankings for the Giants leaves a lot to be desired. There are some solid pieces in there, but there are a lot of question marks, too. Nothing really jumps out at you and says “this is the guy to build around” from a trade package perspective. Their #1 prospect is a 1st baseman with a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. That kind of tells you what you need to know about the strength of their farm system. Maybe Heliot Ramos does something for you, and as their 1st round pick in 2017 he had a stellar debut, but he’s also an 18-year-old and had a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. There’s a whole lot of risk there for the center piece to a trade.
It’s tough to see a good fit between the two teams here unless I’m just missing someone. That is entirely possible. But, even looking at their big league roster for possible options, I’m just struggling to see a good match. Their pitching was pretty poor. And of the relievers who did post good ERA’s, they had iffy peripherals at best and likely benefited from playing in a huge home ballpark.