There have been rumors in the past linking the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets in trade discussions for Josh Harrison. Those talks appear to be ongoing, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Ken Rosenthal also writes in The Athletic that Harrison would be the best fit for the Mets, but that the Mets would need to give up outfielder Brandon Nimmo, which seems to be the sticking point in any deal.

This is about where things left off last time, with rumors that the Pirates want Nimmo in return, and that the Mets are hesitant to deal him. As Rosenthal points out, you wonder why the Mets are holding tight to Nimmo, since they have Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, and Yoenis Cespedes under control for the next few years. Adding to that, the current market for backup outfielders is a buyer’s market, so Nimmo could be easily replaced.

The flip side to this is wondering why the Pirates would be going for Nimmo. Most analysis has him as a platoon player or an average starter at best. They have Austin Meadows in Triple-A, with Jordan Luplow and Adam Frazier in the majors. It’s not hard to imagine one of those three providing the same or better value than what Nimmo can provide. Plus, if the Pirates do want an outfielder, they could just add someone from the current free agent market.

If the reports on Nimmo are true — and the Pirates were also linked to him in the Andrew McCutchen discussions, so it seems plausible that they like him — then this is another sign that they appear to be stuck in No Man’s Land. They’re aiming for a lower upside but low risk player who is MLB-ready, rather than going for higher upside guys who would carry a lot more risk. And if the “close to the majors” guy is needed for the 2018 season, you can easily find this on the current free agent market.

The Pirates made a similar mistake when they traded Neil Walker for Jon Niese. Rather than trying to get higher upside for Walker, they tried to fill an immediate need and kill two birds with one stone. Neal Huntington later said that the return in prospects for Walker wouldn’t be special, but acknowledged that the approach to try and accomplish both tasks might not have been the right move. If the Pirates are trying to get Nimmo for Harrison, then it seems like a repeat of what happened with the Walker trade.

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84 COMMENTS

  1. Why are the Pirates hell bent on getting a lot of 24-26 year old prospects in these trades, instead of pursuing higher ceiling younger guys? We don’t need another unproven OF – we have lots of them now….Meadows, Martin, Osuna, Luplow, Barnes, etc. Is Nimmo really a top prospect and a clear upgrade over Luplow?

    Harrison for Nimmo is a Pirates giveaway in my opinion. Harrison has been an all star and consistent producer. He’s not too old and his contract number is manageable. He should net more than another AAAA player….

    • The Pirates really need a strong catching prospect. So if they’re hellbent on trading JHay that’s what they should try to acquire for him.

  2. I’m fearful Meadows is getting close to Barrett Barnes territory with his health. Unfortunately, as much as I’ve liked Harrison’s contributions for the Pirates, I’m not sure they’ll get a great return for him. I’d like a really good AA player, but that’s not the way the Pirates make trades.

  3. So the rumors are that the Mets are really low on Dom Smith, so how about trading Harrison for him and putting Bell in RF?

    • The biggest issue with Dominic Smith is his weight….the kid can hit, no doubt, but its going to be a challenge for him to keep his weight in check.

  4. If the Pirates actually deal Josh Harrison, the question becomes, once again, is their end goal just to leave the city of Pittsburgh? Bc that would send the WRONG message at this time to Pirates fans.

    Just saying…

  5. The other thing that is confusing about this Pirates report is:

    They have already jettisoned $20 million. Are they still trying to dump salary? I would have problem with that. I know this sounds naive but what is fair is fair:

    1. I accept (but am not happy with) an owner setting his own budget – based on a certain profit rate.
    2. I also accept (but find it incredibly short-sighted) that an owner wouldn’t go over that rate even for one year.
    3. I can not accept that the same owner would change his own rules and be fine with a massive windfall of profits under for a season or two.

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  7. No more Liriano trades.

    Lets make an honest to goodness trade
    if we are going to give up a significant
    asset who is under control for several
    more years and get something
    significant in return.

    • What assets did we give up in the Liriano deal? We dumped money, yea, but Frankie was pitching bad. That was a solid trade to dump money. Reese had backup catcher written all over him and Rameriz is lucky to sniff the majors. maybe a 4th outfielder one day

  8. The Yankees are loaded with prospects and Harrison would provide the stability they need while their star rookies get acclimated.

    It looks like they really want to move Ellsbury before their next move but I have a feeling things will break this week and we may have better potential offers for Harrison than Nimo from the Mets. Get creative….. retain some salary(offset by the Disney money if you must), throw in a mid-level prospect pitcher.
    Dammit….go for it Neal. I don’t want this issue hanging all year. I like the looks of Kramer anyway for the future.

  9. I’ve never seen Nimmo play, but if he is as average as said here why don’t the Mets jump on this potential trade?

    • Its all speculation – no one from the Mets or Pirates confirmed any of the players alleged in this trade…

  10. Who was that first basemen we were linked to when Mets had 2 budding first basemen? One ended up pretty good but the one were on bombed didn’t he?

  11. Jhay for Jon Niese…2nd time is a charm (never mind that the Mets don’t have Niese…it’d just make the trade that much more fun)

  12. Contending or not contending the Pirates need a FULL time OF, and not some lame platoon that appears to be the direction at least now.

  13. On another hand how much is Harrison going to fetch even if he doesn’t help a need I’d take Nimmo any day. I agree with the Yankees I’d rather pay another 5m/year for Kipnis who has matched JHay’s career year twice and is a good defender. Or have a lh bat like Kipnis Walker or rev platoon rh Nunez

  14. I’m sure one could find other options out there, but the actions by Huntington this winter – giving him at least the benefit of the doubt that they’re based in *some* logic – would seem to indicate:

    A. He really, truly does think this is a contending club that only needs filled in at the margins.

    B. He really, truly only cares about “winning” the trades in terms of long term value derived from years of control.

    C. He doesn’t trust his scouts.

    It’s this last possibility on which I’d like to focus. It was a meme during the first rebuild, but Huntington’s affinity for post-hype former top prospects in the upper levels remains ten years later. Nothing has changed. Filed under “you really can’t make this up”, the only two A-ball prospects of note he’s acquired – Taylor Hearn and O’niel Cruz – were *literally* either drafted by the club or targeted as an IFA from a familiar buscone.

    There’s absolutely no indication that the Pirates have the scouting infrastructure in place to scour complex league backfields for upside players. No diamonds in the rough. Hell, barely even an attempt.

    • wow. i haven’t really thought about the lack of interesting international signings. especially of the latin american variety.

      Hell… Pablo Reyes is the only remotely interesting latin american position player in AAA.

    • “He really, truly does think this is a contending club that only needs filled in at the margins.” I think that is exactly right. Maybe 2018 and certainly 2019 contention is in view.

      “..affinity for post-hype former top prospects..” and Nimmo is a former first rounder (13th overall).

      You’d think he would’ve been all over Clint Frazier like a shiny new toy. However, his risk averse nature led him to the Astros package. Trade analysis spread over multiple prospects and years makes it easier for NH to avoid accountability.

    • A & B I agree with…C, I’m leaning against.

      It seems you missed 1.5 A-ballers with the Tarpley/Brault acquisition…I give Tarpley the half-point because he was flipped for Nova…so, indirectly, he’s shown some return to the Pirates.

      He has had a decade to fill the scouting department…so I don’t think he doesn’t trust it…in my opinion, he just doesn’t seem to value the lower level guys all that much. It appears he will lake the lower ceiling guys who are closer to the majors…which, I think, isn’t a bad philosophy…but those guys really only have value when you’re plugging small holes on a really good team.

      • You’re probably right, and he’s ultimately responsible after a decade either way, I just…I *want* to believe Huntington is good. I *want* to assume he’s going to be creative and innovative and GOOD. I suppose at times that leads me away from the simplest answer.

    • C. I think you hit the nail right on the head. It does explain the idiotic moves he made this off-season. If true, there exists a sad state of affairs on the North Shore

  15. The Yanks wanted him before, why not now? Offer JHay and some money for Clint Frazier. Yanks fill a hole and also have some money to buy another pitcher. Problem solved. It seems this offseason has turned into a staring contest for all involved. Who will blink first? Geez.

    • Damn, I thought I was in the 4th decade of my mid-life crisis, not my twilight years. Joe L. Brown was great, strong Latin American presence before it became the standard. Still remember the theme from his weekly Sunday show.

  16. Did the pirates ever have a good GM? Syd Thrift gets some credit for the 90s teams. But he wasn’t around that long.

  17. You have to think Harrison is as valuable as he will ever be. They need to just pull the trigger on a trade. Call the Yankees and offer him for Freicer Perez straight up.

  18. if they keep dumping payroll, i’d almost hope that we start hearing rumors that they’re talking to the dodgers about buying prospects from the Dodgers by taking on Kemp.

    it’d be pretty gross if they got payroll under 70 and just sat on that ~20-30 million that they have left.

    if theyre not gonna buy interesting FAs like Dyson or Lucroy, at least buy some prospects.

    • 100% agree on Kemp! The Dodgers are loaded with prospects, especially OF prospects. I’d be all about buying them, maybe including Daniel Hudson in the move to lighten the load a little bit.

      • McCarthy isn’t expensive or bad enough, and i bet the braves actually want him around.

        maybe Kazmir would be more analogous to Kemp

          • they also have a boatload of money that they can spend in order to not have to do a Liriano style deal 🙂

            The dodgers are against the luxury tax, so they don’t have the same… well… luxury

      • preach!

        and it’d be the opposite of the Liriano trade, but even more extreme.

        that means that fans would love this idea, right?

    • I was discussing the same scenario today. The Dodgers have 2 good MLB catchers and 2 of their top ten prospects are lower level catchers. I would love to see them grab Kemp for 1 of those catchers and another flier. They could then offer Kemp up to another team at the deadline (with $20m) and pick up another piece. Use the money you are saving to restock the farm by buying prospects

  19. Or, the Mets could be baiting the Bucs. “Nimmo? Aw, man, I dunno… how about maybe you throw in Kingham, and pay part of Harrison’s salary, and you got a deal!”

    • Having said that, I’d still be interested in acquiring one of the Mets lower rated pitching prospects like Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, or the higher rated Marcos Molina.

    • i thought nimmo wasn’t a great fielder. do you remember where youve seen any reports of plus defense?

      i suppose his metrics look good in LF in his debut

      • BA called him an average CF with a near average arm a year ago. He put up an -0.4 dWAR in 2017 with the Mets mostly playing corner spots, so I can’t imagine he would add value on defense. He’s an average runner at best, so the range wouldn’t be great.

        • I live in the New York market, and I can attest that he is vey average at best. I just do get the fuss over him. Give Luplow a chance. I agree with Tim about the “no man’s land” approach. NH is trying to justify his extension to Nuting. But Nimmo isn’t going to accomplish that. This is a front office that’s floundering. Beginning to look like the Larry D days s little bit.

      • I’m hoping for above average, not great (maybe that’s not what plus means). Probably about average in CF. His UZR/150 was good in LF in back to back seasons, Clay Davenport’s number indicate he’s very good in LF, and FRAA gave him a nice rating last year. He also has an impressive Sprint Speed, according to Statcast.

        Luplow might be better in the field than I realize, but I’m more confident in Nimmo in LF, especially in spacious PNC.

        • i saw a 45 on his glove, but that mightve been for CF.

          i buy that he’s probably above average for a corner.

          that said, i probably dont buy that he’s a good enough hitter for a corner. i’m not a Brandon Nimmo expert though.

  20. If Nimmo is so good, why would the Mets go out and get Bruce? I have yet to read anything suggesting that Nimmo is anything more than a 4th OF’er.

    He is leadoff type hitter who K’s a lot. He sounds like Max Moroff without the power potential. Too patient for his own good.

      • I agree on ‘Cutch; he was the heart and soul of this team and was our best offensive player in 2017. The Brewers deferred $18 mil of Braun’s salary, without interest, to be paid $2 mil/yr from 2023 to 2031. Cain has a $5 mil bonus that will be paid $1 mil/yr from 2023 to 2027. Very creative.

        We have Harrison for 4 months at best? What’s not to like about Nimmo? He could be the leadoff hitter immediately. In 2016 he was the Mets No. 5 Prospect after hitting .352/.423/.541/.964 OPS in 392 AB with a BB/K/ of 46/73 at AAA Las Vegas. For the Mets in 2017 in about 200 AB he posted a slash of .260/.379/.418/.797 and a BB/K of 33/60. Nothing wrong with those numbers and at 6’3″ 205 I think he may have some power he will mature into.

          • Probably so, and professional athletes need to give consideration for the future. Why not play that card in negotiations? By deferring present contract dollars, the Brewers are pre-spending an expected increase in their TV contract.

            The present 10 year contract of the Pirates with Root expires in 2019. I think the Cardinals signed their new TV contract in 2016, at least a year before the old one expired.

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