Is Josh Harrison’s Time With the Pirates Nearing an End?

Jon Heyman had a report this morning that Josh Harrison has cleared waivers, meaning he can now be traded to any team without restrictions.

Every team places almost all of their players on revocable trade waivers this time of year, so it’s not a big surprise that Harrison was on waivers to begin with. He is owed a little over $1.8 M for the rest of the year, and since he cleared waivers, that means there wasn’t a team that wanted to take the risk of getting him for free for that entire amount.

If the Pirates want to trade him, they can do it now in an easier way, since he can go to any other team without restrictions. His trade value obviously is non-existent at the moment, which means the Pirates would have to eat some of his remaining salary, or possibly all of it, to get anyone in return. I’m not sure that the return would even be that big in that case.

Harrison has seen a decline this year. He was a 2.6 fWAR player last year, with solid defense at second base, and good offensive results. His offense dipped this year, going below the levels he was at in 2015-16 when he was a 1+ WAR player. His defense has also been down this year, leading to a current 0.4 fWAR while making $10 M.

Looking beyond a possible trade right now, it’s hard to imagine the Pirates picking up his team option for 2019. The option is for $10.5 M with a $1 M buyout, which means he’s actually owed at least $2.8 M going forward for any team that would trade for him. As for the Pirates, I don’t know if they would trade him this year, but it’s hard to imagine them picking up his team option for next year. If they did that, they’d be showing him far more value than any other team right now.

As for being buyers or sellers, they were buyers at the deadline, but the trades for Chris Archer and Keone Kela were more about 2019 and beyond. They should be sellers right now, since they have a 64-67 record, sit 8.5 games out of the Wild Card game with five other teams separating them and the two Wild Card teams, and have less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs.

If they did move on from Harrison, they could benefit the rest of the year by giving Kevin Newman more starts, or by giving Adam Frazier a shot at second, or even calling up Kevin Kramer for the final month. Even if they can’t trade Harrison, they should start transitioning to other players who can help in 2019 and beyond.