Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Josh Harrison on the Trading Block

All off-season rumors have centered around a possible Andrew McCutchen trade.  However, here at Rum Bunter we have also talked about Josh Harrison being a trade candidate.  As it turn out that is the case.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a big need this off-season, starting pitching.  Many have speculated the Bucs could move Andrew McCutchen to either acquire a proven starter or clear up some money to sign one.  With that, the reports suggest that the Pittsburgh Pirates are listening on Cutch.  While they are listening they apparently are asking for a hefty return, and rightfully so.  As of now it seems as though they are not getting any offers close to their asking price.

Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates could look to trade for a pitcher or free money to sign one by trading Josh Harrison.  Harrison, who signed an extension at the beginning of the 2015 season, has seen his numbers regress to league average over the last two seasons.  Although he still is a solid player to have on the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Bucs have other options.  Last year the Pirates saw two of their top 20 prospect reach the big leagues.  Both Alen Hanson and Adam Frazier could provide quality production from second base at a much cheaper price. Apparently though the Bucs made a legitimate run to resign Sean Rodriguez.

Here is what Ken Rosenthal had to say on the possibility of trading Harrison and resigning Sean Rod:

“The Pirates tried to re-sign free-agent infielder Sean Rodriguez with the idea of trading Harrison and reallocating dollars to other players, according to major-league sources.”
“Rival clubs, however, likely prefer two other available second basemen, the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler and Twins’ Brian Dozier. And the Pirates lost their most obvious replacement for Harrison when Rodriguez agreed to a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Braves, pending a physical.”
“Harrison, who will play next season at 29, is guaranteed $18.5 million over the next two seasons, including a $1 million buyout on a $10.5 million club option for 2019.”

Although Rosenthal writes about how some teams prefer Dozier and Kinsler, Harrison should still draw interest.  First off, he  cheaper than Kinsler, and controlled through 2017 and a club option for 18′.  Teams may look for a little bit cheaper option in the other two.  Dozier on the other hand is actually making six million dollars next year.  With that, Dozier may or may not be available, the same as Harrison.  The Twins second baseman is controlled through 2018, and although the Twins would like to sell high on his 40 home run performance, they do not need to deal him.

The Bucs on the other hand could use that to their advantage.  Obviously the Twins are going to ask for a significant return being the standout year Dozier had.  The Pirates will have a lesser asking price for Harrison.  Teams could look to the Bucs rather than part with premier talent for Dozier or Kinsler. Also the Twins and Tigers are rebuilding, they will no doubt be looking for prospects in deals.  Meanwhile the Bucs could target a team who needs a second baseman and has excess starting pitching.  Maybe the Dodgers?

Also, while Harrison provides league average offense, he also provides above average defense. In 2016, Harrison gave a 2.9 defensive WAR ranking seventh in baseball.  Also Ken Rosenthal brings up how many runs saved Harrison had in 2016:

“The good news: Only four second baseman had more defensive runs saved than Harrison last season — Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Javier Baez and Robinson Cano.”

Rosenthal did reiterate that the Pittsburgh Pirates are still open to trading Andrew McCutchen.  He notes that the Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to figure out how best to fill needs for next year without mortgaging the future.  Rosenthal wrote:

“The team, in its perpetual quest to balance the present with the future, remains open to trading Harrison, just as it open to trading McCutchen and others.”

Harrison is owed a very doable 7.5 million next season and just over 10 million for 2018.  After those two years he has club options for 2019 and 2020.  The Bucs could save about 16 million dollars over the next two years, fill a need in their rotation, and allow the younger upside players progress and play.  So while Dozier might be the “best” name available due to his power upside, Harrison should still have a market.  Even if teams prefer Kinsler or Dozier, some teams could turn to the Pirates if they find the asking price to high for the other two. Also, they are the only other options that are better than Harrison, chances are there will be more than two teams in the market for second baseman this off-season.

All in all it seems likely the Pittsburgh Pirates will be moving one the bigger names on the roster.  The question is whether it will be super star Andrew McCutchen, or fan favorite, hustling role player Josh Harrison.  It should be a very interesting Winter Meetings.

Also, all numbers courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference

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