Billy Hamilton

Four Reds were eligible for arbitration this year. Today, the Reds signed each to one-year contracts.

Cincinnati inked Billy Hamilton to a one-year, $2.65 million contract today, avoiding arbitration with the speedy center fielder. The club also signed Blake Wood to a $1.25 million deal, with the arbitration deadline rapidly approaching.

The Reds avoided arbitration with center fielder Billy Hamilton, MLB.com has learned. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $2.625 million contract.

Reliever Blake Wood also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.275 million, sources told MLB.com.

The club has not confirmed either transaction.

Friday is the deadline for players and clubs to exchange salary-figure proposals on one-year contracts.

Some clubs, including the Reds, employ a “File and Trial” policy — meaning that once numbers are exchanged, they will likely not negotiate ahead of a hearing next month.

As I’m writing this, I see that the other two arbitration-eligible Reds, Zack Cozart — eligible for arbitration for the third and final time — and Tony Cingrani, have been signed to deals of their own.

The deadline was 1 pm today, so it looks like the Reds snuck these four signings in just under the wire. With respect to Hamilton, Wick Terrell made some good points:

At $2.625 million, Billy sets a pretty nice baseline for his further arbitration years, as his future salaries will be escalated based upon this first year number. And for the Reds’ sake, they’re a bit fortunate that the specific talents that Hamilton brings to the table don’t always garner the types of big paydays in arbitration as, say, dingers and RBIs.

At 53.1 Defensive Runs Saved since the start of the 2014 season, Hamilton ranks as the third most valuable defender in all of baseball in that time according to FanGraphs, while also ranking head and shoulders above the rest of his peers as the best baserunner in the game during that stretch, as well. You’d think that kind of electricity would carry more weight in the negotiation process, but while those skills have found their way into being valued by the likes of fWAR and bWAR, the arbitration system still favors more traditional stats. For instance, Cozart – similarly valuable for his great defense despite subpar offense – earned a comparable $2.35 million in his first arbitration year back in 2014.

So it’s Hamilton’s first big payday, and Cozart hopes it isn’t his last. After this season, Cozart will be a free agent. Whether he’ll still be a Red at the end of this season remains to be seen.

29 Responses

  1. HawkeyeRedsFan

    Chad-You’re slacking. No comment on you about the greatness of BHam? Thanks for all you do.

    • Chad Dotson

      Haha, I almost wrote that I was disappointed the Reds didn’t sign Hamilton to a 12-year contract, but I refrained.

  2. DHud

    Love the BHam deal. Sure it’ll go up from there, but I don’t see a lot to lose from the Reds perspective. BHam is already more valuable than that number, and if he proves his offensive improvement is for real the Reds can look to buy out a few more years of him next offseason

  3. Patrick

    Why wouldn’t they lock up Billy with a long term deal? Don’t wait til his value gets too high where they’re unable to sign him. His stock will continue to rise if he uses the same approach as last year.

    • Jason Linden

      Given his skill set and potential fragility, it’s reasonable to wait for one more good year before you start talking extension. Reds also have some OF prospects coming down the pipe that they may want to keep an eye on.

  4. PDunc

    Billy Hamilton has been worth, on average, just under 3 fWAR each season. If he continues with that level of production, is there an estimate out there for what his arbitration raises would be?

  5. gaffer

    Cozart is 5 million wasted. Just ridiculous.

    • Yippee

      Not only could they not get the Cozart trade done to SEA last season, now they’re giving him $5+ milion dollars for 2017. I know, I know, they can trade him at the deadline, but can they? They tried last season, couldn’t get it done. We are trusting this team with a rebuild? Strap in for the world’s longest rebuild. Better start looking to 2020, this decade is lost.

    • I-71_Exile

      This signing changes nothing. The Reds weren’t going to release Cozart and they can still trade him. They just have an agreed-upon salary before arbitration.

    • christiancuriosities

      I saw Gohara was traded, he was the pitcher we were going to get for Cozart. I’m sorry I don’t have the link (I think it was mlb trade rumors) and someone reported Gohara’s shoulder issues could have been the main hold up. That’s interesting if the Reds balked because of health concerns and not because they ran out of time. To me though, that seems like a really stupid thing for the Reds front office to lie about. Especially when the reason they gave made them look inept.

      • IndyRedsFan

        I don’t see “running out of time” and “health concerns” being mutually exclusive.

        When I saw “health concerns” it made the “ran out of time” thing make more sense to me. They likely identified some health concerns that they wanted to get more information about, and ran out of time to do that. This makes a lot more sense than they just ran out of time to complete the paperwork.

      • Streamer88

        Another trade we didn’t make, and many of us ridiculed the front office for, was wheeler for Bruce to the Mets the first time. Our FO said no, many of us complained, they were patient and got dilson instead.

        Wheelers arm is a mess, and dilson could be our 2B of the future. We all take pot shots at the FO on this site from time to time, but rarely double back to acknowledge when their moves actually turned out correct.

        I’d take Dilson instead of Wheeler for Bruce. Anyone disagree?

      • Streamer88

        At Hotto: your POV may actually be more correct. A more “broken clock being right twice a day” situation. Well said.

    • ohiojimw

      LW, the meter will be running at $880K per month on ZC. That’s $3.5M to the trade deadline.

      I’m doubtful the value he adds to the Reds plus the value of any eventual return on him will equal the salary the Reds pay him before he is off their books unless somebody has an emergency at SS early on.

      For the good of the Reds, we can all hope I am wrong……..

  6. Steven

    so BHam will be a free agent next year?

  7. Greatredlegsfan

    Worst case scenario is they won’t find a trade partner for Philips and Cozart so both will hit free agency at the end of the season. Mesoraco’s contract expires after 2018 season but still they’ll be hung with Bailey until 2020 and Votto until 2023. Those bad contracts are heavier than a granite slab.

  8. Eddie

    After this season, with his next contract will Cozart be a starter?

    • ohiojimw

      According to BBRef, with the contract he just signed, Cozart’s career MLB earnings will be in the neighborhood $12M at the end of this coming season. That’s a nice take but hardly a life time nest egg for a professional athlete. Thus, he will be looking for a multiple year double digits millions contract to be an everyday player.

      To do this, he needs to get into a situation in 2017 where he’s playing everyday and doing well so he can prove his health is not an issue and that he can still get the job done. The ironic the fact of the matter is that it is in the player’s best interest to be out of Cincy sooner rather than later just as it is in the team’s best interest to move him along sooner.

      While I’ve been clear that I think the Reds should have already let him go for what he would bring, I wish him well personally.

      • Greatredlegsfan

        nice guy and good enough to be an everyday player, that 2015 knee injury was really a blow

  9. Daytonian

    Juan Graterol (C) is once againavailable. SD just DFA’d him, if we want him once more on our roster.

    • ohiojimw

      Isn’t it amazing how some of these guys just keep making the waiver rounds but staying on an MLB 40 man roster

  10. David

    Just a parting thought with regards to the Cozart signing.
    If they had gone to arbitration, then it might have gotten “ugly” with respect to revealing to the rest of the baseball world Zach’s exact physical condition.
    As it is, this is sort of a vote of confidence by the Reds that Zach is healthy, and they intend to play him. I actually think this adds a little to his possible trade value (not much), but it does cost the Reds some more money. They might not yet view Peraza as a “sure thing” at SS, and then again, they might trade Zach in Spring Training, once he plays and other teams scout him and see that he is healthy (or not?).
    Actually a few unknowns floating about this whole deal. We, of course, as fans are allowed to make guesses, but I don’t actually see this as some kind of big mistake on the part of Reds’ management.

    • Chuck Schick

      They would need to reveal his “exact’ medical condition to any trade partners anyway. His entire medical history would be shared and he would need to take a physical before any trade would occur.

      Do you think the Reds can hide some medical issue? Do you think other teams are that dumb?

      • ohiojimw

        The fallout from the Padres situation is what led to a “crackdown” on injury reporting in September after the roster expansion date when typically nobody new had been placed on the DL thus eliminating the need to make disclosures on the record.

        The Reds subsequently DLed both Hamilton and Cozart both of whom everyone pretty much already knew were not going to play again in 2016. Later in the month when the Reds needed a 40 man roster spot, Cozart was the one moved to the 60 day DL. I have no clue whether or not this had anything to do with his injury being more severe than Hamilton’s; but, it certainly strikes one as strange that a team, if they had a choice in the matter, would further devalue a player they knew they knew they were going to try and move in the off season.

        A major part of my underlying core position in regard to Cozart has been that it just makes no business sense that the Reds should bear the the risks of his off season recovery when he will be in a walk away year and does not figure in the team’s long term plans. And, as I cited above there is also no reason to believe the Reds figure in the player’s long term plans since he will want to be looking for starting players’ money and not bench money after 2017.

      • David

        Perhaps at this point Zack’s exact medical condition is “unknown but hopeful”. I truly don’t know how healthy his knee is. And he may be fine by Spring Training.
        My point was if they went to arbitration hearing, both sides would show comps as salary markers. The Reds management might make a point of his DL time, and so discretion being better, they resolved the issue before arbitration arrived.

  11. Chuck Schick

    8 million=1 WAR is what a player on the open market would theoretically receive. Part of the arbitrator’s responsibility is to understand that the player involved is not on the open market so his value is discounted.

    A player can submit a price that equates to 8 million =1 WAR and win if the team offer’s a salary that is absurdly low.