Billy Hamilton

Why Giants traded center fielder Billy Hamilton to Mets for prospect

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Why Giants traded center fielder Billy Hamilton to Mets for prospect

The first nine games of the season have changed the outlook for Giants fans, who now can dream a bit more realistically about an underdog run to an expanded postseason. They also changed the roster math for a front office that has to cut from 30 to 28 players by Thursday's game. 

The Giants on Sunday traded center fielder Billy Hamilton to the Mets for young right-handed prospect Jordan Humphreys. Once a potential part-time starter and everyday defensive replacement in center, Hamilton missed the start of camp with an undisclosed medical condition. In the meantime, Mike Yastrzemski has turned into an everyday player in the middle of the diamond and the Giants have found that their future needs will be far more glaring elsewhere. Hamilton became somewhat expendable. 

"Our roster evolved and we recognized the value in having extra bats and extra arms in the 'pen, and that just kind of made Hamilton a tougher fit," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Particularly with us going down to 28 spots later this week. He's done a really nice job in Sacramento for us and we see the value to the Mets in the situation that they have right now."

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That situation is perhaps more complicated than it was when the deal was announced early Sunday morning. About two hours later, the Mets announced that Yoenis Cespedes had not shown up to the ballpark or been in touch with the team. Cespedes is a left fielder, and Kapler said he wasn't sure if the two issues were related.

"I don't know too deeply about the Mets current situation," he said. "I just think Billy is a nice addition to most rosters out there because of the things that he can do on the field."

The Giants should be covered there, with Yastrzemski ably sliding over from the corners to center this season. Mauricio Dubon also can play center, and Steven Duggar is up as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner. 

Humphreys appears to fit right in with the Farhan Zaidi model. The Giants are trying to stockpile arms and use their deep minor league staff to develop them into bigger pieces, and there certainly is a lot to like about the 24-year-old right-hander. Humphreys was ranked as the 14th-best prospect in the Mets' system by MLB Pipeline, which noted that the Mets were so impressed by his Arizona Fall League stint that they put him on their 40-man roster. 

[RELATED: Battle of Heineman's ended up being win-win scenario]

He is said to have good command of a low 90s slider, curveball and changeup, with a good feel for pitching and sequencing. The Giants have tried to accumulate as many arms like that as they can, and some are already paying off. Rico Garcia, a starter-turned-reliever, has thrown five scoreless appearances out of the bullpen and hit 98 mph on Saturday night, a big step up from his starting days. 

"He had a lot of carry through the zone before Tommy John, and still has a lot of carry through the zone," Kapler said of Humphreys. "He was a strike-thrower and a real prospect for the Mets, and we're excited to have him."

Giants trade Billy Hamilton to Mets for pitcher Jordan Humphreys

Giants trade Billy Hamilton to Mets for pitcher Jordan Humphreys

The Giants signed one of the fastest players in MLB history in the offseason, but he won't ever play a game for them.

Center fielder Billy Hamilton was traded to the New York Mets on Sunday morning in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jordan Humphreys, who was sent to the alternate training site in Sacramento. Hamilton had been working out at that site in hopes of joining the Giants' big league roster soon.

Humphreys is an intriguing project, a big right-hander who has a 2.60 ERA in the minors and is coming off Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2018 but returned for a couple of minor league appearances last year and then pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. Humphreys has not pitched above High-A so he's unlikely to be in the mix at any point over the next 51 games.

Hamilton was supposed to make the Opening Day roster, but he missed the start of camp with an undisclosed medical issue and only returned over the final few days of simulated games. Hamilton didn't play in those and continued to get his feet back underneath him at the alternate site in Sacramento. 

[RELATED: Battle of Heinemans ended up being win-win for parents]

The longtime Reds outfielder was supposed to bring speed to center field, but Mike Yastrzemski has been such a star there over the first nine games that it's unlikely there was any playing time in Hamilton's future.

The Giants called up Steven Duggar to fill that role earlier this week.

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Farhan Zaidi explains how Giants put together MLB Opening Day roster

Farhan Zaidi explains how Giants put together MLB Opening Day roster

After four months, an unprecedented hiatus, a labor war and a "summer camp," the Giants on Thursday finally released an Opening Day roster. There were some slight surprises, but not huge ones. 

There also is just one player -- Brandon Crawford -- who was in the Opening Day lineup last year. Eight of the 30 players weren't in the organization at the end of last season, and some familiar names like Andrew Suarez, Dereck Rodriguez and Billy Hamilton were left out. 

There's a reason for everything, and Farhan Zaidi tried to give some answers an hour after the roster came was released.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Where's Yolmer Sanchez?
Once considered a lock for the Opening Day roster, the 2019 Gold Glove winner came out of Tuesday night's game with back tightness. He's day-to-day and likely will begin the season working out with the remainder of the player pool at the alternate site in Sacramento. 

"He did not make the trip to L.A. Our plan is going to be to kind of get him back to 100 percent given that he's going to be out a few days," Zaidi said. "We would anticipate him being in Sacramento and getting some reps there and showing he can get through back-to-back days and kind of go through -- maybe not necessarily a full rehab schedule -- but demonstrate health before we evaluate him for the active roster."

The Giants can take their time. They have a lot of depth at second, with Mauricio Dubon, Donovan Solano and Wilmer Flores, although Sanchez is the only one who hits left-handed. 

Where are Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria?
They'll start the season on the Injured List. Belt has a sore heel and Longoria has a mild oblique strain. Also, if you missed it over the last three weeks, Buster Posey opted out of the season. 

So who will start at catcher?
Tyler Heineman will be the first man not named Posey to start behind the dish for the Giants on Opening Day since Bengie Molina in 2010. The switch-hitter made his first Opening Day roster, along with veteran left-handed hitter Rob Brantly. Chadwick Tromp, who hits righty, had a strong summer camp and was in consideration before feeling hamstring tightness Monday. 

"He probably had worked his way into a really good position to make the opening day roster so I know that's disappointing for him, but we're hopeful it'll just be a few days," Zaidi said.

Who made the taxi squad?
Left-hander Andrew Suarez and outfielder Steven Duggar are in Los Angeles on the three-man taxi squad. The Giants had planned to carry a catcher -- one of three has to be a catcher -- but that was complicated when Tromp got hurt. Will the Giants add a third player before 7:08 p.m. today?

"We'll just have to wait and see," Zaidi said, smiling. 

You can bet he's on the phone right now trying to find a veteran catcher. 

Why not Joey Bart?
Zaidi talked about that at length to NBC Sports Bay Area over the weekend. On Thursday, he reiterated that Bart, who had a strong camp, will get needed work in Sacramento. Zaidi said the Giants haven't at all ruled out Bart coming up at some point this season. For now, he'll play in intrasquad games against the others who did not make the 30-man roster. 

Zaidi said all of the players who were in camp and did not make the MLB roster will be in Sacramento, with the possible exception of Jose Siri, who was DFA'd to clear a 40-man roster spot. 

What other roster moves were made?
Siri and infield Kean Wong were designated for assignment. Posey goes on the restricted list all year so he doesn't count towards the 40-man roster, along with Jarlin Garcia, who is also on the restricted list. Aramis Garcia and Reyes Moronta go on the 45-day Injured List (formerly the 60-day). That cleared spots for all the non-roster invitees who made the team. 

[RELATED: How Heineman got ready for camp]

Is anyone else hurt?
Garcia and Billy Hamilton missed most of camp with undisclosed medical issues and Trevor Cahill has a finger injury. Zaidi said none are on the radar for this series. Garcia is a key left-hander in the bullpen and Hamilton is a valuable pinch-runner and defensive replacement. Expect them to be on the team when they're up to speed. 

What was the biggest surprise?
Left-handed reliever Caleb Baragar was a late addition to camp but blew the staff away in a couple of appearances and ended up making the team. Now he could be facing Cody Bellinger in the late innings tonight. 

"It's obviously a great story for him to come into camp as a replacement player and make it actually a pretty easy decision to put him on our team," Zaidi said. "He's a guy who improved over the course of last season."

Baragar, 26, had a good year as a starter in Double-A and opened eyes when he joined Sacramento for a run to the Triple-A title. Zaidi said it was tough to keep him off the 40-man roster and the Giants were happy that nobody snatched him in the Rule 5 Draft. 

"He was showing better velocity (in recent months) and some pretty interesting fastball characteristics, which we got to see up close once he got into camp," Zaidi said. "It's obviously good velocity from the left side, he's got a good breaking ball, and from what we've seen he'll come in and go right after guys. It's a really good skill set for a left-handed reliever in the big leagues."

What's next?
Baseball! Real baseball! And, finally, the first official game for Kapler. 

"It's weird to say because it feels like he's been in this role for like five years now with everything that's happened," Zaidi said. "I know he's looking forward to it. He's really worked pretty tirelessly since getting the job, connecting with people in different parts of the organization, meeting with players, developing relationships with you guys. I'm happy for him that he gets to manage a regular-season baseball game finally."