There’s a new free agent on the market and he could be someone of interest to the Chicago White Sox.
Outfielder Billy Hamilton recently elected to hit the open market after being outrighted to Triple-A by the Miami Marlins. The decision to reject the team’s assignment now gives Hamilton an opportunity to land with a contender during the final stretch of the regular season.
Hamilton, 31, didn’t really move the needle offensively in just 20 games with the Marlins. He slashed .077/.143/.077 (1-for-13) but went a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts to go along with nine runs scored. This is rather indicative of the role the veteran holds with any team at this point of his career, primarily serving as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement late in games. That being said, his below-average offensive value appears to be further diminishing with age.
Now, we all know that Hamilton is no stranger to the South Side after becoming a fan favorite during his 2021 tenure. Given the team’s underwhelming results to go along with the lack of additions at the trade deadline, someone or something has to spark this club before time runs outs. That leads us to beg the question, could we see the White Sox bring back Hamilton in time for a late postseason push?
Looking more closely at his bread and butter, Hamilton has gone 16-for-16 in stolen base attempts over the past two seasons and is 321-for-392 (81.9%) in his career. The White Sox already rank first in the league with an 87% stolen base percentage but have swiped just 39 bases up to this point, best for 26th overall. Having the speed and awareness of Hamilton could undoubtedly be beneficial late in the games, especially when the Sox cannot afford to throw away any additional opportunities given their current standing. The missing fundamentals on the basepaths this season should also be enough to warrant at least looking into Hamilton further.
On top of his speed, Hamilton has totaled 74 Defensive Runs Saved and 59 Outs Above Average to go along with a 57.9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 6865 career innings in the outfield. When there are days with both Eloy Jimenez and Gavin Sheets in the lineup, late-game defensive replacements are almost a guarantee. A healthy Luis Robert would obviously free up some options, which leads us to the tricky situation that remains… the number of outfielders on the active roster.
As constructed right now, the team already has five true options listed in Adam Engel, Eloy Jimenez, AJ Pollock, Luis Robert, and Andrew Vaughn. Throw in Gavin Sheets, Leury Garcia, and heck, even Josh Harrison, and suddenly you have eight different options. Obviously, you can argue all day about the true positions of players like Vaughn and Sheets but regardless, it doesn’t eliminate the fact that there’s limited room for a player like Hamilton.
The primary need for the White Sox right now isn’t really defense or base-running either, it’s offense. Particularly, home run offense but let’s not get too carried away here since any run-scoring production is welcomed. As much as we all love the guy, Hamilton doesn’t have enough of a bat to push one of the other outfield options off the roster at this time. Obviously, major league rosters do expand on September 1st so technically there’s still a chance, however great or small it might be.
Regardless, fans are still having fun with the situation and calling for Hamilton’s return to provide the missing swagger in the clubhouse that even Johnny Cueto called out the other day.
Billy, himself, even joked in a DM conversation that he would be open to the opportunity.
Whether he rejoins the organization or not, Hamilton will likely be viewed as a valuable addition by some other team in the hunt for an October appearance. We’ll be keeping some eyes on the situation to see where he lands.
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