Billy Hamilton has stolen at least 56 bases in the last four seasons. (Courtesy Keith Allison/Flickr)

Giants pursue Billy Hamilton to address hole in CF

The San Francisco Giants brass was adamant it wanted to improve its center field since the beginning of the offseason. And seeing how this is the Giants we’re talking about, they’re apparently looking to massively upgrade their defense.

That leads to reports that San Francisco is pursuing a trade for Billy Hamilton, the speedy outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds.

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reports the Giants “remain strongest on Hamilton.” The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote the talks are “serious.”

“The source said that talks are advanced enough that something could be completed before the Winter Meetings end Thursday at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. However, the source said that’s no guarantee a deal is ultimately struck,” the Enquirer’s story read.

Hamilton is the fastest player in the MLB and is as exciting as they come. He’s 27 and has averaged 57.5 steals per season over the last four.

He wouldn’t help the Giants’ massive power problems, but he’s performed well against the Giants. He carries an .885 OPS when facing the Giants — which is his best figure against any National League opponent. He also has a .749 OPS when playing at AT&T Park, his fifth best mark in any MLB stadium.

Hamilton would most certainly challenge for the most triples in a season if he were to move west and he’d save the Giants several runs with his rangy defense.

And he reportedly won’t cost any major-league players, according to the Enquirer. So to get him, San Francisco would have to further deplete its already shoddy farm system.

The downside of Hamilton is that he isn’t a consistent hitter — his career .248/.298/.334 slash line leaves much to be desired, especially in the OBP department.

And adding him to the Giants outfield would make for one of the lightest hitting units in baseball. Hamilton, Hunter Pence and Denard Span combined for 2.3 offensive WAR in 2017.

Hamilton has two years of arbitration remaining on his contract before he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2020, when he’ll be 30. He made $2.625 million in 2017.

Adding him to the Giants would be a gamble, and would need to be paired by a complementary move to address the lack of power in the lineup. But it would take care of one of the Giants’ holes at a reasonable cost.

And since they couldn’t beat him, the Giants might as well force him to join them.

Contact Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.

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