The Pirates have attempted to swing a trade involving infielder Josh Harrison and remain open to doing so, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Pittsburgh had hoped to deal Harrison and re-sign Sean Rodriguez, per the report, though was unable to complete such an arrangement before Rodriguez joined the Braves.
Harrison, 29, has seen his production at the plate tail off following a breakout 2014 campaign. He’s guaranteed another $19MM on the extension he signed the following winter, which covers two more seasons as well as buyouts on a pair of successive club options for 2019 and 2020.
The Bucs doubled down on Harrison after he put up 550 plate appearances of .315/.347/.490 hitting, with 13 home runs and 18 steals, in that 2014 season. He followed that up with league-average production in the following year, but fell further in 2016. Over his 522 trips to the plate, Harrison managed only a .283/.311/.388 slash with four homers.
Harrison’s bat is based largely on contact, as he rarely strikes out (14.3% for his career) or walks (3.5%). While his speed continues to allow him to generate a fairly elevated batting average on balls in play, Harrison slumped to 27.7% hard contact and a 19.5% line-drive rate in 2016, both of which fell shy of his output in the prior two years.
There is other value to be found in the infielder. He swiped 19 bags in his most recent season and has continued to rate as a quality overall baserunner. And Harrison’s glove rates well at both second and third. He’s also capable of playing the corner outfield or, in a pinch, shortstop.
The question for teams that might consider a move Harrison is whether they see any possibility that he’ll return to the power output he showed three years back. His .175 isolated slugging mark has dipped to just over .100 in the ensuing years, which rates well below average and leaves him as more of a quality utility infielder than an everyday option. Given Harrison’s inability to spend regular time at short, it’s somewhat unclear whether another organization would be willing to take over the fairly expensive contract.
For Pittsburgh, Harrison remains penciled in at second base as things stand. While David Freese remains available as an option at third after signing an extension in August, Rosenthal says that Jung Ho Kang would not be moved from the hot corner to second in the event that Harrison is dealt. Instead, it seems, the organization would consider youngsters Alen Hanson and Adam Frazier if they find a trade partner. Alternatively, the Pirates could pursue another external addition.