Hamilton will sign with the Royals on Monday, pending a physical, Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports. Through six seasons with the Reds, Hamilton stole 277 bases but hit just .245/.298/.333, leading to a non-tender at the end of November. Those steals have made the center fielder a fantasy stud in the past, but he'll need to play frequently enough to rack up a total high enough to overcome his severe drawbacks in other categories. His speed also took a hit last season, as he swiped just 34 bags after grabbing at least 56 in each of the four previous seasons. The Royals have no established center fielders or top prospects for him to compete with, but Brian Goodwin could still challenge for playing time if Hamilton is a huge negative at the plate. There is no denying that his fantasy stock is trending way up now that he is with a team where playing time is readily available.
The Reds will decline to tender Hamilton a contract for 2019, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reports. Hamilton made $4.6 million in 2018 in his second year of arbitration eligibility and would have been set to receive a salary bump after slashing .236/.299/.327 with 29 RBI and 34 stolen bases in 153 games. The center fielder will be able to sign with any team once this move becomes official. His departure will open up increased playing time for Phillip Ervin alongside fellow outfielders Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker (shoulder).
Hamilton is not starting Sunday against the Marlins. Hamilton has just a single hit in his last eight games. Gabriel Guerrero will get the start in center field in his absence.
Hamilton is not in the lineup Tuesday against the Brewers. Hamilton will sit after starting five consecutive games, slashing .214/.353/.429 with a pair of extra-base hits, a 3:3 K:BB and one stolen base over that stretch. In his absence, Mason Williams will patrol center field and hit seventh.
Hamilton went 0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base in Saturday's loss to the Cubs. Hamilton walked and stole second base in the sixth inning, though he was subsequently thrown out trying to steal third base. The speedy outfielder's season slash line (.241/.304/.333) is in line with his career numbers (.246/.299/.334), though he has just 31 stolen bases in 141 games this year after notching more than 56 swiped bases in each of the previous three seasons.