Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: August 21st, 2018
Oh, it’s time, it’s time, it’s…..Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag time
What middle infield help could be available this offseason? Why are the Pittsburgh Pirates so inconsistent? Can the team get anything for Josh Harrison? And more in this week’s Pirate mailbag.
As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions this week and participated. Now, let’s dive in!
Looking ahead to 2019 this team has very few holes outside of the middle of their infield. Adeiny Hechavarria and Jordy Mercer are both set to hit free agency at season’s end, and neither are very good anyway, and Josh Harrison has had a poor season making it no guarantee his option is picked up this offseason (more on that later).
When looking at realistic free agent targets DJ LeMahieu is a name that jumps out at second base. LeMahieu has been a very average hitter in his career owning a .756 OPS, .329 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 90 in his career. However, he is one of the best defensive second basemen in the game.
As for shortstop, there are no obvious options. The Bucs best option at shortstop may be to fill internally with Kevin Newman. Which is one of the many reasons why Newman should be playing every day for the Pirates at shortstop right now.
Offense, offense, offense.
Quietly, the Pirate rotation and bullpen have both rounded into being a strength for this team. Since July 7th the Pirates have the best team ERA in the National League. And that was before holding the Braves to just one run on Monday night. However, the offense has remained inconsistent during that stretch.
The Pirates entered play on Monday night just 9th in the NL in runs scored and 11th in home runs. Things got even worse on Monday when they were shutout in a 1-0 loss against the Braves.
The Pirate offense simply is not good enough. Some of this is due to the team not having any good offensive options for third base or shortstop. Some of it is due to coaching, Jeff Branson is a bad hitting coach and Clint Hurdle has played Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez at second base over Adam Frazier far too often this season.
Right now, Harrison has zero trade value.
While he can play multiple defensive positions, his main position is second base and he is having a bad defensive season (-4 defensive runs saved) at second base this season. He’s also been awful at the plate owning his worst wOBA (.287), wRC+ (79), and OPS (.663) since 2012. All of this has led to Harrison owning a 0.4 fWAR, which is the third lowest of his MLB career.
Harrison has a team option for $10.5 million in 2019. In no world should the Pirate pay him this. At the same time, I’m not sure any team in baseball will want to pay Harrison this. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Harrison’s option not being picked up this offseason making him a free agent.
The Pirates would love to trade Harrison this offseason, but, odds are, there will not be a market for him.
That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for the mailbag look for our Tweet each week asking for questions.