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.
Mets are continuing dialogue with Pirates about Josh Harrison, but still believe a free agent addition is more likely. And that may not happen until the bigger names are off the board.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 29, 2018
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.