The Atlanta Braves have an entire major league outfield on the injured list, so, to add depth, the club claimed speedster Billy Hamilton off waivers from the Royals, both teams announced Monday afternoon. Kansas City designated Hamilton for assignment last week.
OF Billy Hamilton has been claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves. Hamilton was designated for assignment on August 16. #Royals— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) August 19, 2019
Trade waivers were eliminated this season, so free agent signings and waiver claims are the only ways a contender can bolster their roster in a meaningful way after July 31. Because this was a waiver claim, the Braves are on the hook for the remainder of Hamilton's $4.25 million salary this year. They also hold a $7.5 million club option ($1 million buyout) for next year.
Hamilton, 29, has never been much of a hitter, and this season he owns a .211/.275/.269 batting line in 305 plate appearances. His speed makes him a major threat on the bases though, plus he's a ballhawk in center field who saves hits and runs for his pitcher. As far as waiver claim injury full-ins go, Hamilton is about as good as it gets.
The Braves are currently without Ender Inciarte (hamstring), Nick Markakis (wrist), and Austin Riley (knee). Riley could return sometime this month, though Inciarte and Markakis are out more long-term. Atlanta's current outfield is Ronald Acuna in center, Matt Joyce and Adam Duvall on the corners, and Rafael Ortega on the bench. Hamilton fills a clear need.
Because he acquired prior to 11:59 p.m. ET on August 31, Hamilton will indeed be postseason eligible this year. Even once the Braves get healthy, Hamilton figures to earn a postseason roster spot as a pinch-running specialist and possible defensive replacement.
The Braves come into Monday with the National League's second-best record at 74-52. They have a 5 1/2-game lead in the NL East.