Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says Josh Harrison’s recent injury could lead to the Bucs being “aggressive with early opportunity to add” this month, MLB.com’s Tom Singer tweets. Harrison is set to miss seven weeks with a torn UCL in his thumb. Since Harrison could return by the end of August, acquiring offensive help earlier, rather than at the deadline the end of the month, would perhaps best help the Pirates best compensate for his absence.
The Bucs have a capable replacement in Jung-Ho Kang taking over for Harrison at third base, but the loss of the versatile Kang leaves the Pirates with an underwhelming bench of Chris Stewart, Sean Rodriguez, Steve Lombardozzi, Gorkys Hernandez and Travis Ishikawa. It already looked possible that the Pirates would consider pursuing an outfielder at the trade deadline, and that still looks like a possibility, even though young right fielder Gregory Polanco has shown signs of life lately — again via Singer on Twitter, Hurdle says left fielder Starling Marte’s side injury could force him to the disabled list if he doesn’t respond well to pregame tests. (Marte might not miss many games even if he’s placed on the DL, however, given that the All-Star break will cover several of the 15 days he’ll be required to miss.)
The Pirates could pursue a variety of possible third base or outfield options, then, likely leaning toward a right-handed hitter if they pursue help in the outfield. Purely speculating here, but one would think a player like the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist, who’s capable of helping in both the infield and the outfield, would be especially attractive. Aramis Ramirez could be another possibility at third, with Harrison potentially returning to a super-utility role once he’s reinstated from the DL.