It seems that the next player to be traded away by the Pirates will be Josh Harrison. That said, there are questions about whether he could be moved in the current market for second basemen.
Yesterday, the New York Post reported that the Mets and Pirates have had discussions about Harrison, with the Pirates reportedly looking to get Brandon Nimmo in return. The talks have reportedly stalled, due to the Mets being unwilling to deal Nimmo due to Harrison’s remaining contract. There was another rumor that the Pirates discussed Nimmo in a potential Andrew McCutchen trade, before McCutchen was traded to the Giants. So there are multiple signs that the Pirates are interested in the outfielder, who is 24 and has five years of control remaining.
Harrison is due $10 M this year, and has options for the next two seasons. Those options would pay him $10.5 M in 2019, and $11.5 M in 2020. There is a $1 M buyout in 2019, and a $500,000 buyout in 2020. Therefore, a team taking him on would be looking at $11 M guaranteed for 2018. They’d have to spend an additional $10 M to guarantee the 2019 season. Then an additional $11 M to guarantee the 2020 season.
Harrison is worth that by the numbers. He had a 2.6 fWAR last year, and with a win being worth $8-9 M on the open market, that puts his value well above the $10-11 M range per year. However, he’s been inconsistent, putting up a 1.4 and 1.2 fWAR in the two previous years, dealing with some injury problems in both years. That production would barely break even and wouldn’t give him much value under his current deal. However, I don’t think Harrison should be graded at either extreme, but instead somewhere in the middle, which would give him value.
The problem is that the Mets have a lot of options. They are looking for a second or third baseman, and the Post says they’ve got Neil Walker, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and Jose Reyes as other options, in addition to Harrison.
Harrison has also been linked to other teams earlier in the offseason. We’ll see if the Pirates end up trading him. I don’t think that they’d need to pay down his salary to move him for a decent return, but if that was a need, they definitely have the payroll space available this year, as they’re currently sitting around $81.5 M with his full salary.