Josh Harrison extension a win for player and Pittsburgh Pirates
By Jake Misener
As you all well know by now, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a big splash on Wednesday, signing utilityman Josh Harrison to a four-year contract extension that also includes a pair of options that could bring the total value of the deal to $50 million.
The 27-year-old is coming off the best offensive season of his big league career; he racked up a career-high 38 doubles to go along with a .315/.347/.490 slash line in 143 contests en route to a ninth-place finish in the NL MVP voting and his first All-Star selection.
Harrison not only provided the Pirates with an offensive weapon to nestle in the lineup card alongside Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, but also gave Clint Hurdle a defensive option amongst the most versatile in the entire game today.
The former sixth-round pick of the Chicago Cubs saw time at third base, second base, shortstop and two outfield spots for Pittsburgh in 2014 – but this year, is poised to be the Bucs’ everyday starting third baseman with Alvarez shifted across the diamond to first base.
The deal is structured as follows: $2.8 million this season, $5 million in 2016, $7.5 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2018. It also includes a pair of options worth $10.5 million (2020) and $11.5 million (2021). In all, the deal could be worth the aforementioned $50 million – which could prove to be a steal for the Pirates long-term.
Pittsburgh, a team that often finds itself handcuffed financially in contrast to the big market players, has gotten in the habit of locking up players before they hit the open market – as demonstrated by the team’s signing of McCutchen before the MVP candidate hit free agency, as well as Marte. (Along with repeated attempts at locking up Gregory Polanco, as well).
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Now it doesn’t always work out – as the Pirates know with the deal given to Jose Tabata. That being said, Harrison is widely regarded as one of the most talented third baseman in all of the National League after his breakout campaign – and should be productive throughout the entirety of the deal, given it runs through his age 32 season – a far cry from when most players begin to fade.
Not only does Harrison bring a lot to the table as an individual, but when slid in with the surrounding cast that’s locked up in the immediate future, there’s no reason that Pittsburgh shouldn’t be one of the league’s best clubs for – at the very least – most of the next decade.
With Josh Harrison in the mix on a team-friendly deal throughout 2021 – the Pirates’ front office scored another big landing. While this club may not be heavy hitters on the free agent market annually, chalk this up as another big win for Neal Huntington and company.