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Former Red Billy Hamilton signs with American League team

The Kansas City Royals and speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton have agreed to a $5.25 million contract for next season that includes up to $1 million in incentives, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The Royals hope that spacious Kauffman Stadium will allow Hamilton to better use his speed than the bandbox of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, where he spent his first six seasons with the Reds. The person who confirmed the deal spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal was pending a physical.

»RELATED: Reds claim reliever from Red Sox

The 28-year-old Hamilton made his big league debut in 2013, then proceeded to have four consecutive seasons in which he stole at least 50 bases. That number dipped to 34 last season, when the switch-hitting Hamilton hit .236 with four homers and 29 RBIs as the Reds’ everyday center fielder.

The Reds ultimately did not tender Hamilton a contract after paying him $4.6 million in the second year of arbitration. The Royals now control him through the 2019 season and Kansas City now has three of the top eight base-stealers in the majors last season.

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»RELATED: Hamilton decision gives Reds budget flexibility

The Royals were poised to head to spring training with Brett Phillips and Brian Goodwin competing for the centerfield job, and both of them will still have that opportunity with Hamilton in the mix.

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