Josh Harrison tells Pirates to trade him if they are not committed to winning
The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be transitioning into a rebuilding phase after they failed to make the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, and star outfielder Josh Harrison does not want to be a part of it.
In a statement released to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic on Tuesday, Harrison made it clear that he is unhappy the Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. He also said the team should deal him next if winning now is not a priority.
“Baseball is a business and I understand that trades are part of the business. While I love this game, the reality is that I just lost two of my closest friends in the game,” Harrison wrote. “Cole and Cutch were not just friends, they were the best pitcher and best position player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, I am the most tenured member of the Pirates, I want to win, I want to contend, I want to win championships in 2018, 2019 and beyond.
“My passion for Pittsburgh, what it has MEANT to me, what it MEANS to me, can never be questioned. I love this city, I love the fans, I love my teammates. Saying that, the GM is on record as saying, ‘When we get back to postseason-caliber baseball, we would love our fans to come back out.’ If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded. I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer.”
Harrison was named an All-Star in 2017 and 2015. He hit .272 last season with with 16 home runs — a career high — and 47 RBI. The 30-year-old has been with the Pirates since 2011. As Rosenthal notes, Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington reminded people recently that the 2013 Pirates were not expected to contend, and they won 94 games and made it to Game 5 of the NLDS.
“In our minds, a rebuild implies you’re looking five years down the road,” Huntington said. “This team is going to show up ready to go in spring training, ready to compete, ready to defy odds, just like that 2013 Pirates team did.”
Several teams would have interest in Harrison if Pittsburgh made him available. He’s set to make $10 million this season with club options for $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020. That contract is a bargain for an All-Star outfielder, which is why the Pirates may also opt to keep him.
We know several Marlins players who can relate to Harrison’s frustration. But like those players, Harrison doesn’t have much leverage.