Hamilton has long seemed a candidate to change uniforms — ever since he was signed over the offseason, in fact. The rebuilding Kansas City organization inked him for a guaranteed $5.25MM (including a $1MM buyout on a 2020 mutual option) after the Reds non-tendered Hamilton to send him onto the open market.
The 28-year-old Hamilton has never delivered much with the bat, but he’s finding new lows in 2019. Through 305 plate appearances, he’s slashing a meager .211/.275/.269. It’s hard to carry any player on the roster with that kind of offensive output, which is worse than half the league-average hitter (44 wRC+).
Baserunning and defense have long allowed Hamilton to make up for his shortcomings at the plate. But Hamilton isn’t running as often or as well when he does get aboard. The renowned base-stealer has only taken 18 bags, while being cut down five times. Statcast identifies a relatively small but still notable reduction in his sprint speed; Fangraphs’ BsR measure identifies him as a very good but not uniquely exceptional overall baserunner. Defensive metrics do remain quite positive, which remains a strong feather in Hamilton’s cap.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Hamilton. The contract is rather steep for a player that won’t likely feature as more than a 4th or 5th outfielder for a contender. But it’s also fascinating to contemplate what the speedster could do down the stretch and on a postseason roster. If some team decides it really wants to have him, and doesn’t want to risk Hamilton choosing another organization, it’s certainly possible we’ll see a claim.
Meanwhile, the move will open the door for the Royals to get their first look at Phillips in the majors this year. He is still swinging and missing quite a bit this season at Triple-A, as he has since landing with the Milwaukee organization, but he has ramped his walk rate up to 17.4% while delivering good power numbers (.264 ISO, .505 SLG).