The Mets are "continuing dialogue" with the Pirates regarding a potential trade for INF/OF Josh Harrison, reports Mike Puma of the NY Post, who says the Mets still believe a free agent acquisition for second base is more likely.
The Mets re-signed Jose Reyes last week to be a utility player, and are still seeking a full-time second baseman. Aside from Harrison, the team has recently been linked to free agent infielders Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and Neil Walker.
Despite Harrison suggesting he wants to be traded in the wake of the Pirates trading RHP Gerrit Cole and OF Andrew McCutchen, the team may be leaning toward keeping him -- at least for the first few months of the season -- Peter Gammons reported last week.
It was reported earlier this month that the Mets are "not particularly enthusiastic" about trading OF Brandon Nimmo in exchange for Harrison -- believing the cost should be lower.
The Mets rebuffed the Pirates' request of Nimmo in a potential deal for McCutchen before he was dealt to the Giants, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, who did not specify who else the potential deal included or if the Pirates were willing to eat part of the money owed to McCutchen.
Harrison, 30, hit .272/.339/.432 with a career-high 16 HR, 26 doubles, 47 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 128 games last season for the Pirates. He was the 11th-most valuable second baseman in baseball, worth 2.6 WAR, according to FanGraphs, slotting in behind Robinson Cano and ahead of Ian Kinsler.
Defensively, Harrison was worth 6 DRS (defensive runs saved) in 653.1 innings at second base last season, and worth 2 DRS in 341.2 innings at third base. He also saw limited time in left field and right field.
Harrison is a career .281/.321/.414 hitter in seven seasons with the Pirates, and has been a plus defender at second base every year since 2012.
He will make $10 million in 2018, and is under contract at $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020. However, his 2019 salary can be bought out for $1 million, and his 2020 salary can be bought out for $500,000.
Nimmo, 24, hit .260/.379/.418 with five HR in 69 games for the Mets in 2017. With Michael Conforto not expected to be ready in time for Opening Day, the expectation as of now is that Nimmo will be on the 25-man roster along with Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, and Jay Bruce.
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Of the infielders the Mets have been connected to, Harrison is the best fit. He's a solid offensive player who is a plus defender at second base, versatile enough to play third base and the outfield, and would give the Mets some speed.
The Mets' apparent reluctance to deal Nimmo to the Pirates means a trade would likely have to be done with the Mets dealing only minor league assets -- and the Pirates, who are reportedly not looking to fully rebuild, may not have any interest if that's the case.
If the Mets and Pirates can't agree on a deal for Harrison, the next best bet would be to sign Todd Frazier -- despite the fact that it would mean shifting Asdrubal Cabrera to second base, where he would be a defensive liability.
After Frazier, it likely comes down to Nunez (who is a poor defender at second base) or Walker (whose injury issues have limited him to 113 and 111 games, respectively, over the last two seasons).