Billy Hamilton, for free, would be a great idea for the Giants. I know his career on-base percentage is roughly .00005, but he truly is one of the greatest defensive center fielders of his generation, and I’m very much into that idea after watching Denard Span last season. Stick Hamilton at the bottom of the order, enjoy the speed when you get the chance, and appreciate the brilliant defense. His salary would allow the Giants to add a power-hitting corner outfielder to make up for his deficiencies.
Billy Hamilton, at the cost of their top prospect, would be a horrible idea for the Giants. I don’t think this is controversial. But that’s exactly a scenario we have to face because of the latest Jon Morosi column.
In trade conversations, the Reds have shown interest in outfielder Heliot Ramos, ranked as the Giants' No. 3 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, as first reported by The Athletic and subsequently confirmed by one source to MLB.com.
Ramos is the No. 3 prospect only because MLB Pipeline’s list hasn’t been updated. He’s a clear No. 1 now. And I cannot possibly imagine the Giants trading him for a player as flawed as Hamilton. It’s so implausible that I’m not even worried about it. Here’s me, cool as a cucumber, not even worried about this rumor.
[nervously scratches forearm until it bleeds]
Not worried at all. Nosiree.
Let’s say, as a thought experiment, that the Giants would really trade Ramos to improve the 2018 team. They’re willing to sell every last piece of the farm system for this final dead cat bounce, and they don’t care if it sets the organization back several years. Let’s pretend they’d even trade the second-overall pick in 2018 if the rules allowed it, and let’s pretend they’re secretly committed to cashing in on Ramos’ value right now.
They could do better than a sub-.300 OBP in this scenario.
They could probably convince the Brewers to listen harder on Domingo Santana, who is young, cheap, talented, and under contract for a lot longer than Hamilton. They could probably get in the door with the Christian Yelich talks. They could get wacky and explore a Jose Abreu trade, with Brandon Belt becoming a full-time outfielder. They could shift directions and ask about Danny Duffy. If the Giants are willing to trade their best prospect, they could get an impact player under contract for several years. It’s nearly impossible to imagine the Giants would cash their only remaining big-ticket trade chip in for a bad hitter who has just two seasons left on his contact.
The wording in that article doesn’t suggest that the Giants are considering the deal, mind you. “In trade conversations, the Reds have shown interest in outfielder Heliot Ramos,” holds roughly as much weight as, “In blog posts, McCovey Chronicles has shown interest in the Braves’ Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña in a package deal for Mark Melancon.” Of course the Reds would be interested in Ramos when discussing a Hamilton trade. They’d be interested in Ramos with a Jose Peraza trade, too. They’d be interested in Ramos for cash or a player to be named later. Shoot your shot, that’s what I say.
But here’s what really makes me think a Ramos-for-Hamilton swap is completely unlikely to be even considered by the Giants: There is a player comparable to Hamilton on the free agent market, and he wouldn’t cost a top prospect. Jarrod Dyson is a better hitter than Hamilton, so even if you think that he’ll be a worse defender next year (he’ll be 33, after all), he’s probably a preferable target even without Ramos being involved in a trade. It’s not like the Reds are just going to donate Hamilton because they feel guilty for having Adam Duvall and Luis Castillo. They’ll want prospects, and the Giants having to give up anything of value would make me prefer Dyson.
I can’t imagine the Giants looking at the difference between Hamilton and Dyson and thinking it’s worth the most exciting prospect they’ve had in years.
Consider Lorenzo Cain’s part in this. He fits the Giants better than any free agent on the market. He fields like Hamilton, but he hits like Buster Posey. That’s exactly the center fielder the Giants need, and the only reason they aren’t focused on Cain intently is because he received the qualifying offer, which means they would have to give up their second- and fifth-round picks, along with $1 million in international money next year. The team is desperate to hang onto those picks and those dollars because they will help rebuild the farm.
The odds of the Giants getting a prospect who’s even half as valuable as Ramos with those picks and that money are low. Extremely low. Almost microscopic.
We’re supposed to believe that the organization that’s unwilling to consider Cain because of the prospect cost would turn around and give up their most exciting prospect for a lesser player? Please note that I’m writing these words in a “Mr. White incredulously dismantling Mr. Orange’s logic at the end of Reservoir Dogs” voice.
I call shenanigans. If the Reds trade Hamilton to the Giants, it won’t be for Ramos. Not even worried.
[puts peanut butter on knife]
[puts knife between slices of bread]
[nonchalantly takes bite, deep in thought]
Yeah, I’m not worried at all. There are so many options for center field right now, from a placeholder like Austin Jackson to a defensive whiz like Dyson to the de facto option, Steven Duggar, there’s absolutely no way that the Giants would consider trading their best prospect for an imperfect, short-term fix.
Absolutely no way.
I’m still working on my glossy Austin Jackson brochure. I will work harder now. Be responsible until then, Giants.
But if the Reds are looking to ditch Hamilton for some lower-level prospects, I mean, go for it.