With both Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez currently on the open market, Texas has an obvious need in the middle of its outfield. Desmond spent the lion’s share of 2016 in center, and the Rangers are now “far from optimistic” that they’ll be able to re-sign him. The interest in Hamilton makes sense, then, as the 26-year-old has been a valuable member of the Reds since becoming a full-time major leaguer in 2014. As evidenced by his .248/297/.334 batting line in 1,547 plate appearances, Hamilton hasn’t contributed much at the plate, but his defensive and baserunning excellence combine to give him a high floor.
Just seven major leaguers have saved more runs in the field than Hamilton’s 37 since 2014, while only Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons have bettered his 47.9 Ultimate Zone Rating over the past three seasons. Hamilton swiped the most bases in the majors (172) during the same period and is fresh off his third straight season with at least 55 steals, despite having missed a combined 91 games the previous two years. Hamilton stole a career-high 58 bags in 2016, and has only been caught a combined 16 times since 2015. That’s a vast improvement over his rookie year, when opposing catchers gunned Hamilton down 23 times on 79 attempts.
Although the Reds are in the midst of a rebuild, they’d need to be “really, really motivated by an offer” to move Hamilton, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). Hamilton is under team control through the 2019 campaign and is set to make his first trip through arbitration this offseason, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting an ultra-affordable $2.3MM salary for 2017.