At this stage of his career, the switch-hitting outfielder is a depth player. Hamilton was a regular center fielder for the Reds from 2014-18 on the strength of his speed and glove. He’s appeared for seven different clubs since the start of 2019, hitting .205/.262/.288 through 549 MLB plate appearances. Hamilton has gone an excellent 49-58 in stolen base attempts over that stretch and continued to play strong defense, but the lack of productivity at the plate has bounced him around the league.
Hamilton has barely played in the majors this season, suiting up just twice with the ChiSox. He’s appeared in 28 games with their Triple-A club, hitting .147/.261/.253 while striking out in just under a third of his plate appearances. Hamilton hasn’t played since July 7 because of shoulder discomfort, but a source informed MLBTR last week that he was recently cleared to return to game action.
It’s common for teams to give a look to speed/defense players late in the season. Active rosters expand from 26 to 28 players on Friday, giving clubs some additional leeway to carry a late-game specialist. It’s not uncommon for such players to also crack a postseason roster, though that’s by no means assured in Hamilton’s case.
He will be eligible for the playoff roster if the Rays wanted to give him an MLB look. Players only need to be in the organization before September 1. Players not on the 40-man roster by the start of September have to be granted a commissioner’s exemption to replace an injured player in October, though that’s commonly approved by the league office.