The Houston Astros are rumored to be one of the teams interested in free agent Josh Harrison, the two-time All-Star infielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
With the uncertainty of the Astros and Marwin Gonzalez reigniting their relationship, Houston has reportedly shown interested in Josh Harrison. Harrison has primarily occupied the second and third base positions but has occasionally filled in at shortstop and in the outfield. The possible role of DH could also justify Houston’s interest.
Josh Harrison, 31, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates declined their option over Harrison for the 2019 season, leaving him with a $1 million buyout versus the $10.5 salary he would have received. Four other teams, the Yankees, Reds, Nationals, and Giants have also shown interest in the versatile veteran.
Harrison’s best season was in 2014 when he carried a slash line of .315/.347/.490, knocked 13 homers and stole 18 bases. He was selected to the All-Star team that year and again in 2017. Last season was a down year for Harrison batting .250 with only eight HRs. That may have been the result of lingering issues he had with a fractured left hand he suffered at the beginning of the season.
Throughout Harrison’s career, he struggled to reach the 2+ WAR (Wins Above Replacement) level as a player, only surpassing that twice, a 5.5 WAR in 2014 and 3.3 WAR in 2017, his two All-Star seasons. The rest of his career he possessed a sub 2.0 WAR, dropping to 0.3 last year.
The potential addition of Harrison to an already crowded infield does raise some questions about the Astros’ intentions for the future. With Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman already entrenched at second and third, respectively, and utility players Yuli Gurriel and the recently acquired Aledmys Diaz, where does Harrison fit in? Could he be primarily used as a DH or could this be a prelude to a bigger move to come?