Should the Mets go after Starlin Castro or Josh Harrison?
The Pirates second baseman may be a couple of years older than Starlin Castro, but his numbers, versatility and contract make him a better fit for the Mets.
Josh Harrison has been consistently offensively for the past few seasons with a new power surge coming last season. In his breakout 2017 campaign, Harrison went deep 16 times which helped his OPS grow to .771 from .699 the previous season. While some could argue that Harrison just had an unusual offensive season, that can be easily dismissed when you point to his 2014 season when he hit 13 home runs and had an OPS of .837 over 143 games in Pittsburgh.
Even if you don’t get that type of greatly over average production from Harrison going forward, his flexibility on the infield is another reason that really makes him attractive.
Harrison can play, and pretty much has played, every position out there except center field, catcher and first base (yes, he actually pitched for the Pirates in 2014). He’s obviously more comfortable at second base as it’s his natural position, but he can definitely man the hot corner and shortstop if needed too. In the event that an outfielder goes down, Harrison can also step in and give you some games in one of the corner positions. This is probably the biggest difference between him and Castro.
The Mets are going to need that versatility if they’re unable to create a deep bench or roster to fill in should guys get hurt. And let’s be honest, that’s probably going to happen at some point.
Harrison also has some wheels on the base paths. While he’s not 2006 Jose Reyes by any stretch, he steals a dozen or so bases annually. This added speed would definitely be welcome in a lineup that’s pretty thin in this department.
When it’s all said and done, it may end up being all about the money. If both the Pirates and Marlins are willing to go with less prospects in a trade in order to get rid of the money on those contracts, the Mets will have to weigh which one is better in the long term.
Harrison is a little bit cheaper than Castro which would be more appealing to the Mets. Like the Marlins’ second baseman, Harrison is signed through 2020, but instead of one team option, Harrison has two team options in his last two contract years. Both are also a little bit cheaper than Castro’s ($10.5 million in 2019, and $11 million in 2020).
If the Mets want some assurance for at least three years, Harrison would be a pretty great route to go. Now, the hard part is figuring out what the Mets have to give up in order to make either of these trades happen.
Next: Howie Kendrick for second base?
The farm system is pretty thin, but as stated before, maybe they can get away with a lesser package in exchange for monetary relief. I mean, Sandy Alderson did trade Jonathon Niese for Neil Walker one time, and that worked out really well for us. Maybe he can figure out another piece the Pirates are interested in and send it out their way.