KANSAS CITY -- As the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches, outfielder Billy Hamilton knows his days with the Royals could be drawing to an end.
The signs are all there. Hamilton is on an expiring contract, the team was 29 games below .500 entering Sunday, and now Hamilton’s playing time is being drastically reduced with the promotion of Bubba Starling.
“Coming into the season with a one-year deal,” Hamilton told MLB.com on Sunday, “you know it’s possible [to get traded]. And that’s especially true when the team isn’t winning. If we were winning, it’d be different maybe.”
Hamilton talks regularly with his agent about his potential future.
“There’s definitely interest out there,” Hamilton said. “We don’t know anything specific. But I just have to keep doing my job, and if it happens, then it happens.”
Hamilton, 28, entered Sunday with just a .284 on-base percentage this season. But for any contender needing a weapon off the bench (16 steals) or a late-inning defensive replacement, Hamilton would be a nice fit. He can still fly in center field -- he is 12th in all of baseball with five Outs Above Average, the Statcast advanced metric that is the cumulative effect of all individual catch probability plays a fielder has been credited or debited with.
Hamilton’s contract might require a bit of roll-up-the-sleeves negotiating. He is owed around $2 million still on the rest of his $4.25 million contract this season. There is a 2020 mutual option that has a $1 million buyout.
And Hamilton can earn an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses for making 325 plate appearances (he’s at 267), and $100,000 more for each additional 25 plate appearances after that up to 550 PAs.
Any trade of Hamilton might require the Royals to subsidize some of the finances.
“Who knows what’s going to happen the next couple of days and the next couple of weeks?” Hamilton said. “As a player, you’re aware of the situation.”
Hamilton is grateful for two things: The Royals gave him an opportunity to play this season, and they were transparent and forthcoming about his recent reduced playing time. The coaching staff and front office spoke to him about the Starling promotion before it became official.
“That’s what I like about the Royals,” Hamilton said. “It wasn’t just like me coming back from the All-Star break and wondering what’s going on. It was already talked to me about the situation and how I was going to play. I really appreciate it from [general manager] Dayton [Moore] all the way down. I came back and it wasn’t a shocker. I knew that [Starling] was going to play a lot and I’d just have to perform when I got my chance.
“I understand that that’s their guy. That’s part of the business. All I can do is come in here and try to get better every day.”