Following up on his statement that Matt Harvey will remain in Cincinnati, Reds general manager Nick Krall added that he expects Billy Hamilton to remain with the team as well (link via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Hamilton, like Harvey, had been claimed on revocable waivers and could’ve been traded to the claiming team — the identity of which remains unreported.
Unlike Harvey, however, Hamilton is controllable beyond the 2018 season. He’s eligible for arbitration one last time this winter and figures to receive a raise on his current $4.6MM salary. Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams suggested earlier this summer that his team wasn’t all that interested in moving pieces controlled beyond the current season, and the decision to retain Hamilton meshes with that line of thinking.
Hamilton, 27, would’ve been an ideal pickup for a contender seeking a defense/baserunning upgrade in advance of the upcoming Sept. 1 roster expansion. It’s not uncommon for contending clubs to carry pinch-running/base-stealing/defensive specialists through the month of September and into the month of October (e.g. Terrance Gore and the Royals in 2014-15), and no one in baseball has more steals than Hamilton’s 206 dating back to 2015. Hamilton has also posted sterling defensive marks in that time, including 37 Defensive Runs Saved and a 33.1 Ultimate Zone Rating.
Rather than joining a new team for the stretch run, it seems that Hamilton will instead remain with the Reds into the 2019 season (barring an appealing trade offer this winter). While he’s never developed any real semblance of on-base skills, Hamilton has nonetheless delivered consistent value on the basepaths and in the field which have helped to overcome his deficiencies at the plate. He’s a career .246/.299/.332 hitter through 2624 plate appearances, and his 2018 results (.239/.304/.321) are more or less in line with those career marks.
Hamilton is a known favorite of Reds owner Bob Castellini, who has said in the past that he hopes Hamilton will spend his entire career in Cincinnati (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick). Castellini’s affinity for Harvey reportedly served as a factor in the team’s decision not to trade him, and it seems possible that the same is true with regard to Hamilton.