Pirates utilityman Josh Harrison has cleared revocable trade waivers, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). That means the veteran can be traded freely for the rest of the season — though he’d need to be moved by the end of August to be eligible for postseason play with a new organization.
Of course, clearing waivers hardly indicates a player is likely to be dealt. In this case, there’s no particular indication to this point that the Bucs are expected to find a taker for the 31-year-old.
It’s still notable, though, that Harrison is now among the players known to have cleared waivers. Those and others are still available for contenders in need of further upgrades.
There’s always a reason when a player does make it through waivers. Sometimes, it’s because no contending teams expect that player to be traded, as with some younger/more controllable players. Quite often, it’s simply a value proposition: placing a claim means you’re willing to take over a player’s entire contract, as the team that sought waivers has the option of revoking the waiver request, working out a trade, or simply allowing the claiming team to step into its shoes in the agreement.
This case, surely, is one of the latter variety. Harrison is earning a $10MM salary this year and is owed $1.5MM in buyouts on successive club options that are priced at $10.5MM and $11.5MM.
At times, those prices have seemed reasonable for Harrison, who at his best adds value in all facets of the game. He has appeared in the rumor mill as a possible trade candidate quite frequently in recent years. Unfortunately, his bat has been inconsistent in recent seasons and has never produced anything like the output he showed in the breakout 2014 campaign that preceded his extension with Pittsburgh.
Thus far in 2018, Harrison is hitting just .257/.299/.365 with seven home runs over 343 plate appearances. There’s not a lot to love in the underlying numbers, either. Statcast, for instance, suggests that his contact quality has merited exactly the middling output that has resulted (.288 wOBA vs. .291 xwOBA).
It’s fair to note, too, that defensive metrics have soured on Harrison, who normally grades as a clear positive. That said, he’s still receiving only slightly below-average marks and it’s hard to read too much into those figures. While he isn’t stealing as many bags as he has in past seasons, Harrison still rates as a quality overall baserunner.
All things considered, it’s still reasonable to imagine contending teams liking the idea of adding Harrison down the stretch, though clearly they’ll need some help with the salary — especially, the option buyouts — to make it worthwhile. If the Bucs decide they won’t pay Harrison in 2019, then perhaps the club will be willing to hold onto the option obligations and work out a deal. While the Pittsburgh organization made some buy-side moves at the non-waiver deadline, after all, it has since faded out of contention.