12:23pm: The Twins announced that Hamilton’s contract has been selected and that lefty Austin Davis, whom they claimed off waivers from the Red Sox earlier this week, has been added to the active roster. Outfielder Trevor Larnach was moved from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to open a 40-man spot for Hamilton. Larnach has been out more than 60 days already after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia back in late June, so the move to the 60-day IL is a pure formality. The Twins are still hopeful that he can return this month.
8:53am: The Twins are set to select the contract of veteran speedster Billy Hamilton, as first reported by TwinsDaily’s Ted Schwerzler. It’s an off-day for Minnesota, but Hamilton will be with the team for tomorrow’s series opener against the division-rival White Sox, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 SKOR North radio. The team will need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move for Hamilton, as they’re currently at capacity.
Hamilton, 32 next week, signed a minor league deal with the Twins last month after declining an outright assignment with the Marlins, for whom he went 1-for-13 while appearing in 20 games (mostly as a defensive replacement) earlier this summer. He’ll be joining his eighth Major League team when he suits up for Minnesota. The longtime Reds center fielder is considered one of the best defensive players in the sport and will give the Twins two of the game’s most dynamic outfield gloves once Byron Buxton returns from the 10-day IL. (He’s eligible this weekend, though the team has not yet indicated when he’ll be reinstated.)
Hamilton’s blistering speed and glovework helped to overshadow perennial lackluster showings at the plate for the first several seasons of his career in Cincinnati. He hit just .244/.297/.332 in 2714 plate appearances from 2014-18 but remained the Reds’ everyday option in center thanks to his glove and an average of 53 stolen bases per season. His offense fell off even harder in 2019, however, and the switch-hitting Hamilton has moved into journeyman status, batting a combined .209/.266/.293 in 539 plate appearances spread across six teams in the past four years.
With the Twins, Hamilton will provide a valuable late-game defensive replacement and pinch-running option as Minnesota looks to close a 1.5-game deficit and retake the AL Central lead from the Guardians. And, at least for now, with Buxton, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff all on the injured list — Kirilloff’s season is over, following August wrist surgery — there could be some additional opportunities to make a few starts. At present, the Twins have shortstop-turned-outfielder Nick Gordon in left field, Gilberto Celestino in center and stalwart Max Kepler in right field. Kyle Garlick gives them a corner option against left-handed pitching, and lefty-swinging Jake Cave gives them another outfielder capable of playing any of the three positions.
Because Hamilton was in the organization prior to Sept. 1, he’ll be postseason-eligible, although the fact that he wasn’t on the 40-man roster as of midnight last night means he’d require league approval as postseason replacement for a player on the injured list. Still, teams make such swaps every year, so if Minnesota ultimately qualifies for the playoffs and wants to roster Hamilton as a bench option, they’ll be able to do so.