The White Sox have signed outfielder Billy Hamilton to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports (Twitter link). Hamilton will receive an invitation to Chicago’s big league Spring Training camp.
This is Hamilton’s second stint with the White Sox, after he played in 71 games with the club in 2021. Playing mostly as a part-time outfielder, late-inning defensive sub, and pinch-runner, Hamilton delivered his signature blend of strong defense and speed (a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts) while also making 135 trips to the plate for the AL Central champions.
Hamilton’s skillset made him an intriguing player early in his career, as he finished second in NL Rookie Of The Year voting in 2014 with the Reds, and he stole 230 bases (out of 282 chances) with Cincinnati from 2014-17. However, Hamilton has never hit above a replacement level, turning him into a journeyman as he looks to enter his 11th Major League season. The 32-year-old has suited up for eight different teams at the MLB level, with 690 of his 948 appearances coming in a Cincinnati uniform.
Playing time has been a lot more sporadic for Hamilton since his Reds tenure ended, and he has bounced around the league on a series of minor league deals. In 2022, Hamilton inked minors contracts with the Mariners, Marlins, and Twins, ultimately getting to the big leagues for 20 games with Miami and 17 for Minnesota.
Though the smaller sample sizes of playing time make it somewhat harder for Hamilton to be properly gauged by defensive metrics, he still appears to have a solid glove capable of handling any outfield position. He’ll be a useful depth piece for the White Sox considering Luis Robert’s injury history, and Gavin Sheets’ struggles in the outfield. The Sox shored up left field in a big way by signing Andrew Benintendi this week, and prospect Oscar Colas is knocking on the door to split time with (or perhaps supplant) Sheets for right field duties.