Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made his third trade in less than two years for a defense-first outfielder on Sunday, dealing righthanded prospect Jordan Humphreys to the Giants for Billy Hamilton.
Hamilton was with San Francisco on a minor-league deal. He joins Keon Broxton (cut after 49 at-bats last year) and Jake Marisnick (injured list) as light-hitting outfielders acquired for minor-leaguers under Van Wagenen. Hamilton also joins Marisnick, Juan Lagares and Johneshwy Fargas as fast, defensively inclined outfielders currently with the Mets.
In seven major-league seasons — six with the Reds and last year with the Royals and Braves — Hamilton has a track record of lots of steals (299) and poor hitting (.242/.297/.326). But his greatest asset is his defense.
“I had a great year in 2018 and I tell everybody — they’re like, ‘What happened? What happened?’” said reliever Jared Hughes, Hamilton’s Reds teammate that year. “I tell them, Billy was my centerfielder. Because he just caught everything. He robbed the homers. Anything that I gave up that was hard hit to the outfield, Billy was there diving for it.”
Humphreys, 24, was designated for assignment Wednesday, when the Mets needed to clear room for Ryan Cordell, another glove-first outfielder. MLB Pipeline ranked Humphreys as the organization’s No. 14 prospect.
An 18th-round draft pick in 2015, Humphreys has barely pitched the past three years due to two elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery. But he had a 0.77 ERA in 11 2/3 innings last year in the Arizona Fall League. That was an encouraging enough showing that the Mets added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.