On Thursday, Cleveland reportedly reached a minor-league deal with outfielder Billy Hamilton, according to Daniel Álvarez Montes of El Extrabase.
OF Billy Hamilton is in agreement with the Cleveland Indians. Minor league deal with ST invite. Pending physical, per source.— Daniel Álvarez Montes (@DanielAlvarezEE) February 11, 2021
Jon Heyman shortly thereafter confirmed the two sides are “close”.
Billy Hamilton close to Indians deal @DanielAlvarezEE 1st— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 12, 2021
AP has since confirmed the deal as confirmed, citing sources familiar with the matter.
If the deal is completed, Hamilton represents the second signing of an outfielder with major-league experience to a minor-league contract in the last few hours.
Hamilton is known almost exclusively for his speed, or rather, his inability to use it to its fullest potential. While Hamilton seems to be capable of stealing second or third base whenever he pleases, it is rare that he reaches first base to begin with. Some enterprising individuals have suggested a way around this inconvenient truth.
Unless Hamilton starts hitting or the team is willing to try an unconventional strategy, this looks like an insurance and depth move for center field. I don’t know that I would read too much into this re: the team’s confidence in other, younger options.
Cleveland seems to do this every year shortly before spring training. It’s as if they realize they can suddenly invite more people than they’d thought.
So, worst-case scenario, Cleveland has a guy who could steal thirty bases in March.