Despite Josh 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 -- reports Peter Gammons.
The belief from most in baseball was that the Pirates did not receive equal value in exchange for Cole and McCutchen, but Gammons says the "gist of opinion from the GMs" he talked to is that the Pirates did well in those trades, and may try to compete sooner than later instead of continuing to tear down.
The Mets and Yankees have been among the teams interested in trading for Harrison, but it was reported last week that the Mets are "not particularly enthusiastic" about trading OF Brandon Nimmo in exchange for Harrison -- believing the cost should be lower. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic had reported last Tuesday that the Mets had seen Nimmo as a potential centerpiece in a deal for Harrison.
The Mets rebuffed the Pirates' request of Nimmo in a potential deal for McCutchen before he was dealt to the Giants, according to Rosenthal, 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.
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Of the infielders the Mets have been connected to, Harrison is the best fit. Yes, there are other infield options on the free agent market. But there are issues that come with signing each of them. Todd Frazier would necessitate moving Asdrubal Cabrera to second base, where he's a poor defender. Eduardo Nunez is a poor defender himself. Neil Walker has dealt with back issues. And Jose Reyes is a bench piece at this point in his career.
Dealing Nimmo for Harrison would also allow the Mets to keep Juan Lagares, who would likely be the center fielder on Opening Day, and can serve as a valuable fourth outfielder who gets plenty of playing time once Michael Conforto returns -- helping to keep Conforto, Cespedes, and Bruce fresh.
With Harrison, the Mets would be getting a solid offensive player who gives them speed and an above-average glove at second base (and third base if they choose to ever use him there). Harrison can also play both corner outfield positions. But the Mets' refusal to part with Nimmo would mean coming up with an alternative to entice the Pirates.
Despite the Mets having one of the lower-ranked farm systems in baseball, there are quality prospects in the lower levels. But if the Pirates are intent on finding near-major league ready talent, it might be hard to find a match.