As the days leading to the beginning to spring camp dwindle, speculation continues to grow regarding how exactly the Dodgers will round out their Opening Day roster.
Some believe the team will stand pat, some think the club may make a few mediocre-type of upgrades, and others are still holding on to hopes that Los Angeles will make a huge splash and agree to terms with outfielder Bryce Harper.
Even some prominent sports journalists seem to be stymied by the intentions of the Dodgers’ front office.
To show what a typical day of rumors might look like on the web, Andy put together a story surrounding a handful of rumors that were peaking in the late hours of Monday morning.
One name that surfaced in her story was that of utility man Josh Harrison. The right-handed hitting, 31-year-old found himself on the free agent market at the end of last season after the Pirates declined his $10.5 million team option for 2019.
My first thought was: “Oh, no. Not another utility man.”
But after digesting the idea for a day, I’m not quite certain exactly how Harrison would fit in Los Angeles. I mean, there are so many other things to take into consideration. Will Max Muncy see most of his time at first or second base? Will Chris Taylor settle into a regular outfield spot or will he continue to move around the field? Will Enrique Hernandez make a run at the starting spot at the keystone? Is Andrew Toles a legitimate contender for an Opening Day roster spot?
The list goes on.
For all we know, the landscape of the team may not even begin to take shape until the summer trade deadlines pass.
Anyway, back to Harrision. Conceivably, he could be the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman, especially if Taylor is relegated to the outfield and Hernandez remains in his super-utility role. Harrison’s no stranger to second base, as he played 397 games there over the course of his eight-year big league career. And, as a bonus, he’s a very capable backup at the hot corner—something the Dodgers don’t necessarily have. Harrison can also play a little shortstop, in addition to providing cover at both corner outfield spots—versatility that boss Andrew Friedman seemingly dreams about.
Despite his ability to move around the diamond, he’s never had any exceptional offensive numbers, aside from a season or two. He was named to the NL All-Star squad twice—the first time in 2014, then again in 2017. Those campaigns were the only times he has ever hit double-digit home runs. His 2014 season was his most impressive. He appeared in 143 games that year, slashing .315/.347/.490 with 38 doubles, seven triples and 13 long balls. He even swiped 18 bags.
Still, besides a 5.5 WAR in 2014 and a 3.3 WAR in 2017, he never went beyond a 2.0 WAR for any of his other seasons. He gives the impression being more valuable on offense, as his defensive metrics are pretty much a wash. Last year, he registered a 0.3 WAR, hitting .250/.293/.363 with eight homers and 13 doubles over just 97 games and 374 PA. He missed six weeks early in the season after being stung on the hand by a Jose Urena heater last April, then was put on the shelf for several weeks near All-Star break after suffering a mild strain to his hamstring.
Nevertheless, many saw him as a valuable contributor to the Pirates’ success. But Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington has always been regarded as highly economical. Looking towards 2019, Huntington felt that $10.5 million was not worth the potential production that Harrison brought to the table.
Reportedly, Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts has expressed his thoughts about the team needing a complimentary right-handed hitter. Obviously, Harrison fits the bill, but in the greater scope of things, I don’t think he’d put up better numbers than Taylor or Hernandez on an equal playing field.
I have no idea what Harrison is shooting for in terms of a salary, but like any other player, I’d guess he’s seeking a multiple-year deal. And in a perfect world, he’s probably looking for more than $8-9 million per season. In a tough 2019 market, my best guess is that he gets picked up on a one-year contract for about $5-7 million.
In the end, Harrison would be a fine addition to almost any club across the league, but for a team that has won six straight division titles without a World Championship, I highly doubt he’s the piece of the puzzle that pushes the Dodgers over the top.