Josh Harrison had a year to forget in 2018, leading the Pirates to buy out the veteran infielder after the season and end a relationship that began in 2009. Nevertheless, no fewer than five teams have shown interest in Harrison this offseason, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, who lists the Astros and Giants among clubs that have at least considered the 31-year-old. Heyman previously reported interest from the Yankees, Reds and Nationals.
Harrison’s coming off an up-and-down tenure in Pittsburgh, where he debuted in 2011 and managed to reach the 2.0 fWAR in two individual seasons. He was at his best during a 4.8-fWAR showing in 2014, which led the Pirates to award him an extension worth a guaranteed $27.3MM early in 2015.
Harrison went on to combine for an unspectacular 5.4 fWAR during the rest of his stint with the franchise. He was especially disappointing in 2018, when he totaled 0.3 fWAR and batted .250/.293/.363 (78 wRC+) with minimal power (eight home runs, .113 ISO) across 374 plate appearances. While Harrison only logged a .285 weighted on-base average in 2018, he posted an even less inspiring .275 xwOBA, per Statcast. Of course, it’s worth noting Harrison’s season began in terrible fashion when he suffered a fractured left hand – an injury that sidelined him from mid-April to mid-May and could have played a role in his drop in production.
Harrison, to his credit, is just two years removed from a 2017 campaign in which he was among the Pirates’ most valuable players. He also comes with vast experience at second and third base, two positions where he has been a plus defender for the majority of his career. But it could be difficult for Harrison to garner playing time at either position in Houston, which boasts superstars Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman at those spots and also has Aledmys Diaz and Yuli Gurriel on hand as versatile options. Like the Astros, the Giants feature established players at second and third – Joe Panik and Evan Longoria – but those two joined Harrison in struggling last season. The Giants’ new president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, seems to be looking for infield help as a result.