Along with Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison was rumored as a potential trade candidate last off-season. It seems there once again is interest in him this off-season.
Last off-season it was rumored that the Pittsburgh Pirates would consider trading Josh Harrison in the right deal. At the time Harrison did not carry a lot of value. He was coming off a somewhat down year where he hit .283, but only got on-base at a .311 clip with a slugging of .388. He only produced a 1.4 WAR, which followed up his 1.2 WAR 2015 season. These two seasons made his breakout 2014 seem more of an outlier. With that, the Pittsburgh Pirates did not expect to receive a legitimate return for Josh Harrison last off-season. The only team that really seemed like a fit for him was the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, that went away when the Dodgers acquired Logan Forsythe.
Josh Harrison had a better 2017 season than his previous two. This past year, Harrison had a lower batting average, hitting .272, but he got on-base at a .339 clip and had a higher slugging percentage at .432. Due to this, he produced a 2.6 WAR. He also had eight defensive runs saved at second base, showing he is still a plus fielder. So Harrison has recouped some of this value based on his bounce back 2017.
Now there seems to be a rejuvenated interest in Harrison as the Winter Meetings near. According to Marc Carig of Newsday, he hears that the Mets will explore trade talks with the Pirates about Josh Harrison at the Winter Meetings. He explains that the Mets are looking to upgrade at second base via the trade market, which includes Harrison, Jason Kipnis, and Ian Kinsler as possible targets. This would be the second time in the last three years that the Mets have had interest in a Pirates second baseman. Two off-seasons ago, the Mets acquired Neil Walker from the Pirates.
Today, front office representatives have started to show up in Florida for the Winter Meetings. The meetings do not technically start until tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM. However, rumors have already started to leak out. According to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Blue Jays have expressed interest in Josh Harrison as well. The Blue Jays have made it well known that they want to acquire some infield help this off-season, so it makes sense. Brink’s report came via twitter, and he also notes that the Angels could be a logical fit for Harrison also.
Why would the Pittsburgh Pirates trade Harrison? Well, he is owed $10 million for the 2018 season. Meanwhile, they have Adam Frazier who represents a potential replacement for Harrison. Frazier hit .280 with a .341 on-base percentage. He has a long way to go with the glove compared to Harrison, but Neal Huntington noted at Pirates Fest yesterday that he believes Frazier can handle second base. Frazier will only make league minimum next season, therefore if the Pirates believe Frazier can give similar production, then they can in turn save about $9.5 million by dealing Harrison. Harrison is under team control through 2020 and is owed a total of $32 million over those years. If teams view this as a positive thing then the Bucs could get a strong return for him. Coming off a solid season it could be the case.