Braves will decline Billy Hamilton’s $7.5M option— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 1, 2019
With the World Series now over and the off-season officially here, the Braves first roster move may be the least surprising one of all. Per Jon Heyman, the Braves will decline their part of Billy Hamilton’s 2020 mutual option, making him a free agent. While Hamilton had some good moments for the Braves, he simply is too much of an offensive liability to be anything more than a late inning defensive substitution or pinch runner. Obviously, $7.5M is a bit too rich to keep that type of player on any roster. The Braves will pay $1M as the buyout portion of declining the 2020 option once the move is official.
Hamilton actually had some of the best offensive numbers in his career with the Braves. Though only over 48 plate appearances, Hamilton produced a .268/.375/.317 triple slash line, good for a .692 OPS. His OPS and Walk rates were at their highest marks since his rookie season during his time with the Braves. Of course, his speed also came in handy on the base paths and in center field.
Though he did have some success in Atlanta, his struggles over 305 plate appearances in Kansas City to begin 2019 were the continuation of a negative trend since 2016. That year, Hamilton posted a .664 OPS, a mark which has declined down to the .544 OPS he produced in Kansas City.
In the past, it would seem as if Hamilton would have a big uphill climb to find a major league guarantee for 2020. However, with the addition of the 26th spot on MLB rosters for 2020, Hamilton’s defense and speed could be attractive for teams to add him as an end of the bench option. Though the future for Hamilton holds plenty of uncertainty, he did well in fulfilling his role during the Braves’ stretch run for their NL East Division title.