The answer to the question posed in the headline to this post is, “It’s complicated.”
Or maybe the better answer is, “It depends.”
Billy Hamilton can do two things really well on a baseball field: Run the bases, and play defense. He’s never been able to hit or get on base — career MLB OBP .296 — although you’d never have convinced Cubs pitchers of that, because in 308 career PA facing Cubs pitching Hamilton posted a .350 OBP. If only Cubs pitchers could impart to other pitching staffs that sort of performance, Hamilton could be an All-Star.
But he’s not. He is, at this stage of his career, a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. He’s also 30 years old, at an age when those two skills could go into fast decline.
So the reason I say “It depends” is because we do not know, in November 2020, what baseball rosters are going to look like when the 2021 season begins. It’s possible they go back to the 26-man limit which was going to go into effect in 2020 if we’d had a normal season.
Or they might they could go back to the 28-man limit that was used throughout the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. In that case, a team like the Cubs could definitely stash a guy like Hamilton on their roster and use him on the bases and in the field. Every now and again, perhaps against a lesser opponent or a pitcher who’s a good matchup, he could get a start.
Hamilton’s not going to make even anything like the $1 million the Braves paid him in 2020 as a contract buyout of the deal they inherited when they claimed him off waivers from the Royals in August 2019. K.C. had signed him to a one-year deal worth $4.25 million with a $7.5 million mutual option after the Reds had non-tendered him in December 2018.
He’s close to a minimum-salary guy now. The Cubs could probably keep him for that, or if you don’t want to have him clogging up a 40-man roster spot, give him a minor-league deal with an opt-out if he’s not on the MLB roster by a certain date.
Hamilton has useful skills that few other Cubs players have. I think he’s worth keeping around, at the right price, of course.
Should the Cubs re-sign Billy Hamilton?
This poll is closed
Yes, at any price
Yes, but only for league minimum
Yes, but only to a minor-league deal