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Mets strike trade with Giants for speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton

Seeking to shore up their outfield depth, the Mets on Sunday acquired defensive-minded outfielder Billy Hamilton from the Giants for right-hander Jordan Humphreys.

Hamilton, who ranks third among active players with 299 stolen bases, gives the Mets a measure of athleticism and defensive depth behind Brandon Nimmo and backup Jake Marisnick, who is on the injured list nursing a strained left hamstring. The switch-hitting Hamilton batted .218 with a .564 OPS in 119 games last year for the Royals and Braves, before the Giants inked him to a Minor League deal this winter. Hamilton was in the Giants’ 60-man player pool throughout Summer Camp, but he had yet to crack their active roster.

The Mets did not immediately activate Hamilton. Nimmo is their starting center fielder, with Ryan Cordell currently serving as his primary backup.

For the Mets, Hamilton offers two main benefits: speed and defense, the latter of which has been suspect for the team so far this season. One of baseball’s top center fielders throughout the past decade, Hamilton, 29, has compiled 73 career Defensive Runs Saved at the position, the fourth most of any center fielder over that stretch.

“I had a great year in 2018 and I tell everybody — they’re like, ‘What happened, what was the difference?’” said Mets reliever Jared Hughes, one of Hamilton’s teammates on that Reds club. “I tell them, ‘Billy was my center fielder.’ He just caught everything. He robbed the homers. Anything that I gave up that was hard-hit to the outfield, Billy was there diving for it.”