TODAY: The Indians announced that Hamilton has been released.
MARCH 11: The Indians have informed veteran outfielder Billy Hamilton, who is in camp with them on a minor league deal, that he will not make the Opening Day roster, manager Terry Francona announced to reporters this morning (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Mandy Bell). The organization made the decision quickly and will “attempt to help him land” with another club, per Francona.
Hamilton always faced an uphill battle in making the Indians’ roster, given the presence of Eddie Rosario, Oscar Mercado, Josh Naylor, Jordan Luplow, Bradley Zimmer, Daniel Johnson, Amed Rosario and Jake Bauers on the 40-man roster. But Cleveland’s outfield picture got even more crowded not two weeks after Hamilton inked his deal with the club on Feb. 12, as the Indians wound up claiming Harold Ramirez off waivers from the Marlins.
It’s not clear whether Cleveland will quickly release Hamilton or simply try to find a nominal trade that could send him to another club with more of a need in the outfield. Either way, it seems likely Hamilton will be with another club before too long.
The 30-year-old speedster was a fixture in the Reds’ outfield from 2013-18 but has begun to bounce around the league in journeyman fashion since that time. He split the 2019 season between the Royals and the Braves before spending time with the Giants, Mets and Cubs organizations in 2020. (He did not appear in the Majors with San Francisco.) Hamilton remains one of the game’s fastest players and most gifted outfield defenders, but he’s batted just .237/.294/.317 across his past four seasons in a total of 1578 plate appearances.