The Pittsburgh Pirates have made some unpopular decisions in recent days. With the trades of star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and team ace Gerrit Cole, the club has shed a ton of talent in a short span. And if one player has his way, they’ll shed even more before the end of the offseason.
Infielder Josh Harrison sees the writing on the wall in Pittsburgh and he wants out. Harrison explained his decision in a statement to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
“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. 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.”
After explaining his love for the city of Pittsburgh, Harrison makes it clear that he wants to be traded:
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.
He’s got a decent shot at getting his wish. After the trades of McCutchen and Cole, Harrison is one of two players left on the roster who make over $10 million. If the Pirates are truly tearing it down again, it makes sense for them to ship off Harrison to a contender for future parts.
While Harrison is under team control through 2020, it’s tough to know if the Pirates will contend by then. The team is saying they can rebuild quickly, but it’s tough to take that argument seriously right now.
If anything, the fact that Harrison comes with some future cost certainty should only increase his value on the trade market. The 30-year-old Harrison hit .272/.339/.432, with 16 home runs, over 542 plate appearances in 2017.
Requesting a trade can be a difficult thing, as you risk alienating your current team’s fanbase. Harrison attempted to get ahead of that by explaining how much he loves the city of Pittsburgh and its fans. He wisely puts his decision on team general manager Neal Huntington, who seemed to imply the Pirates would not contend in the next few years.
Harrison’s strategy might work, because fans are pretty upset with Huntington, owner Bob Nutting and the entire Pirates organization right now. The team just admitted their first rebuild in over 20 years was a failure. Sure, they made the postseason a few times, but only advanced past the wild-card game once.
During their window, the Pirates never really made a huge move to push them over the edge. The club’s biggest midseason acquisition during that time was J.A. Happ. While Happ was unbelievable with the Pirates, he was far from an exciting name when they picked him up.
Instead, the club chose to rely on building from within. And that was fine for a while. The Pirates developed plenty of useful pieces over the last few years. But at a certain point in a contention cycle, teams need to consider parting with future pieces if they want to capitalize on the current core. The Pirates never did that.
Harrison experienced all that and more. He joined the organization in a trade during the 2009. He didn’t make his major-league debut until 2011, but he got to see the last few seasons of the team’s immense struggles before making the majors.
It’s tough to blame him if he doesn’t want to be a part of those struggles the next time around.
More coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – – –
Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Rockets push into Clippers’ locker room after game
• Ball brothers have breakout game in Lithuania
• Michael Lee: Cavs-Warriors rivalry is quickly becoming a laughingstock
• Tennis star ends interview after bizarre Kaepernick question