The Yankees are continuing their search for a possible replacement in the infield, now that Chase Headley and Starlin Castro have been sent out of town. One name that has apparently come up in trade talks is 30-year-old infielder Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review, the Yankees have inquired on the availability of Harrison this offseason.
Nothing appears to be imminent, but he’s someone to keep in mind over the next month or so. His name briefly came up during the ongoing discussions in the proposed Gerrit Cole trade. At one point, there was an idea rolling around that the Yankees would trade Clint Frazier to Pittsburgh for Cole, and New York would somehow also get Harrison. That obviously never materialized, but there are reasons the Yankees might be interested in returning to those discussions later in the offseason.
At this point in his career, Harrison has basically had one really good season, and he benefitted from it in a big way. In 2014, he managed to hit .315/.347/.490, leading the Pirates to sign him to a four-year extension. He’s not exactly expensive, but considering he’s basically been a league-average hitter since his supposed breakout, he isn’t really a bargain either. For the Yankees, though, he might be a worthwhile gamble.
He rebounded a bit in 2017 and will make just over $10 million, which is what Castro will make this year. The Yankees can use 2018 as a try out before they decide on his 2019 team option for another $10 million. He would also serve as a relatively cheap backup plan in case the Yankees can’t get a better third baseman next offseason.
On top of this financial flexibility, he also represents the kind of versatility in the field that the Yankees like to see. He has played second base for the Pirates in recent years, but he is also capable of playing third and filling in at the outfield corners. Getting Harrison would give the Yankees a lot of leeway when it comes to bringing up their prospects. He can give Gleyber Torres some time to develop but also move out of the way when he’s ready.
Despite the benefits he would bring, Harrison doesn’t seem to be a perfect fit. He’s a right-handed hitter, which the Yankees don’t exactly need more of if they can help it. Considering the questionable status of Jung Ho Kang, it’s hard to see the Pirates trading off Harrison with no other viable replacement. The Mets and Blue Jays were also said to be interested in him, so the Yankees may end up having to get competitive or move on before everything is said and done.