Pirates' Josh Harrison requests to be traded
If the Pirates are not going to be competitive, Josh Harrison wants out.
In a statement released Tuesday via The Athletic , Harrison openly asked management to deal him to another club “if indeed the (Pirates do) not expect to contend this year or next.”
On Saturday, the Pirates traded ace pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros. On Monday, Andrew McCutchen — the face of the franchise and Harrison's best friend on the team — was dealt to the San Francisco Giants.
There has been much speculation Harrison, who will make $10.25 million this year, also will be moved before the start of spring training. According to industry sources, the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees inquired about him.
Harrison cut through the what-ifs and directly challenged the front office.
“Baseball is a business, and I understand that trades are part of the business,” Harrison said in The Athletic. “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.
“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.”
Neither general manager Neal Huntington nor president Frank Coonelly responded to a request for comment from the Tribune-Review.
During a conference call with Giants reporters, McCutchen said he was aware of Harrison's trade request.
“He was a part of the organization with me,” McCutchen began, choosing his words carefully. “He was there when we weren't that good, and he was there when we were. He feels the way he feels. That's the way it goes for him.
“I wish him nothing but the best of luck with whatever transpires. He was a great teammate. He wants to win. I guess he doesn't know what's in the Pirates' future, and if (winning) is not, I guess he wants to be somewhere where he can win. That's something that goes along with the game. We're going to be friends forever. We'll see what happens from here.”
Harrison, 30, is in the final guaranteed year of his contract. There are club options for 2019 ($10.5 million) and 2020 ($11.5 million).
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.