Indians Close To Signing Billy Hamilton (www.baseball-reference.com)

The Indians are nearing a contract with free-agent outfielder

, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. Daniel Alvarez Montes of El ExtraBase first reported the news, noting it’s a minor league contract.

It’s back to the state of Ohio for Hamilton, who played with the Reds from 2013-18. Although he has never been any kind of offensive threat, Hamilton had his best seasons in Cincinnati on the strength of a superlative combination of defense and base running. Hamilton hit a meager .245/.293/.333 in 2,736 plate appearances as a Red, but he succeeded on 277 of 340 stolen base tries (81 percent) and ranked in the top 10 of big league outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved (65) and Ultimate Zone Rating (45.5).

The 30-year-old played the previous two seasons with four different teams (Royals, Braves, Cubs and Mets), but his offensive numbers got even worse. Hamilton batted an ugly .210/.278/.270 with 28 steals over 389 PA, though he’ll nevertheless get an opportunity to earn a spot in a Cleveland outfield that finished last in the AL in fWAR (minus-0.9) in 2020. Hamilton joins Ben Gamel as the second minor league outfield addition of Thursday for the Indians.



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