The Chicago Cubs claimed Billy Hamilton off waivers from the Mets today, per Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (via Twitter). The Cubs also added Ildemaro Vargas to the active roster and designated Matt Dermody for assignment. Bastian also reports that the Pedro Strop deal is official.
Hamilton, in the conversation for the fastest player in baseball, joins his third team of the 2020 season, though he was DFA’ed by the Giants before the start of the season. With the Mets, Hamilton appeared in 17 games, but saw just 25 plate appearances. He was unable to muster much at the dish, slashing .045/.083/.045 in that time. Hamilton did steal 3 bases in 4 attempts, which might be a better gauge of his success at this point in his career. He appeared 6 times as a pinch-runner for the Mets.
Hamilton could serve as a defensive option late in games for the Cubs in center, but his primary usage should be as a pinch-runner. The Cubs have Ian Happ playing most days in center with Albert Almora, Cameron Maybin, and Nico Hoerner used when Happ needs a day off or moves around the diamond. Any of those three might be used at times to run, but none have the speed of Hamilton. He’ll fill the role of a late-inning burner that’s been filled by Quintin Berry and Jarrod Dyson in the post, notes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
Dermody made just one appearance for the Cubs, pitching a scoreless ninth in yesterday’s loss to the Cardinals. The 30-year-old lefty was signed as a free agent early in August. He’ll now be exposed to waivers.
Vargas, 29, has been through a whirlwind 2020. After starting the season with the Diamondbacks, the Twins purchased his contract from Arizona, but then lost him to the Cubs on waivers about a month later. He didn’t see extended playing time with either team, slashing .190/.222/.263 across 45 plate appearances split between Arizona and Minnesota. The switch-hitter gives the Cubs another versatile bat for their bench.
Additionally, the Cubs added Duncan Robinson to their 60-man player pool and released catcher Jose Lobaton.They have one open spot in their player pool. Robinson, 26, is a big-bodied right-handed pitcher who spent four years at Dartmouth before being drafted by the Cubs in the 9th round of the 2016 draft. He has yet to pitch in the majors.