The Braves made several roster moves, including the addition of Billy Hamilton off of waivers. The long-time center fielder for the Reds doesn’t bring much to the table in the batter’s box. He currently has the longest streak of plate appearances without a home run in the majors by a longshot and hit .211 in 93 games this year before being released by the Royals. Because of that, the Braves do not plan on giving him any at-bats. They plan to use him solely as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
#Braves not planning to give Billy Hamilton at-bats. View him as strictly a defensive replacement and pinch-runner. They will owe him about $900K in salary and a $1M buyout.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 19, 2019
If utilized correctly, Hamilton can have a positive impact even when players like Austin Riley, Nick Markakis, and Ender Inciarte return. He might be the fastest man in the majors and has fantastic instincts on the basepaths. On 23 attempts this year, Hamilton has only been caught five times. That speed also helps him in the field where he has become one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. Hamilton has been a finalist for the Gold Glove award five times, but the Braves own Ender Inciarte has won it in each of the last three seasons.
How long the Braves will need Hamilton remains to be seen. Austin Riley is expected to be back around the time the calendar turns to September, while Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte are going to be out at least another month. Because Hamilton was signed before September 1st, he is eligible for the playoff roster. He should have plenty of time to prove he deserves a role in October. The Braves will be on the hook for the remaining 900k of his salary this year and a $1 million buyout for 2020.