The Marlins have outrighted outfielder Billy Hamilton to Triple-A Jacksonville and optioned outfielder Bryan De La Cruz to Jacksonville, tweets Christina De Nicola of MLB.com. That pair of moves makes room for infielder/outfielders Jon Berti and Brian Anderson to be reinstated from the injured list.
That Hamilton has already been outrighted to Triple-A indicates that he passed through waivers unclaimed. Given the time of year and the number of teams that could view him as a vital defensive replacement/pinch-runner late in the season, that’s a bit of a surprise. That said, Hamilton also has the ability to reject this assignment in favor of free agency, which would allow him the opportunity to potentially latch on with a contender.
Hamilton, 31, appeared in 20 games with the Marlins but, reflective of the role in which he’ll most often find himself at this point in his career, logged just 15 plate appearances. The former top prospect averaged 57 steals per season with the Reds from 2014-17 and has long been regarded as one of the best defensive players in the sport, regardless of position. His offense has never matched the baserunning and defensive value, however, and his typically pedestrian output at the plate has dwindled even further in recent years.
Dating back to the 2019 season, the switch-hitting Hamilton is a .209/.266/.293 hitter in 241 plate appearances. Though he had a knack for putting the ball in play early in his career, he’s fanned in nearly 37% of his plate appearances over the past two seasons.
That said, Hamilton has gone 16-for-16 in stolen bases over the past two seasons and is 321-for-392 (81.9%) in his career. He’s also racked up a whopping 74 Defensive Runs Saved and 59 Outs Above Average to go along with a 57.9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 6865 career innings in the outfield (nearly all coming in center).