Pirates Shopping J-Hay

Most of the potential trade talks this off-season for the Pirates have centered around Cutch. A name that I have said before that would make a good trade candidate would be Josh Harrison. Last night, Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Pirates were looking for a trade partner for Harrison.

J-Hay signed a 4 year, $27 million contract after his breakout 2014 season. Since then, he has declined in terms of offensive production down to the league average. J-Hay turns 30 in 2017 and is signed through 2018 with 2 option years where the Pirates could retain him through 2020.

The Pirates expressed interest and tried to resign Sean Rodriguez, but Sean took a 2 year, $11.5 million deal with Atlanta. That was one I would’ve liked to see back. Sean played everywhere for Pittsburgh and had a career-best season in 2016. A well earned raise from his $2.5 million salary in 2016.

Backing up J-Hay is Adam Frazier who is coming off a terrific 2016 rookie campaign. Frazier hit .301 and had an OBP at a .351 clip. Frazier played mostly 2nd base, but also got some time at 3rd base and in the outfield. If J-Hay stays a Pirate, Frazier will be the new Sean Rodriguez in 2017.

If the Pirates are able to move J-Hay, Frazier will likely become the starter. The Pirates have Alen Hanson on the 40-man roster who could serve as the back-up 2nd baseman and short stop. Hanson will be 24 in 2017 and is out of minor league options. If the Pirates don’t place him on the Opening Day roster, he will have to pass through waivers if they want him in Triple-A.

Hanson is an interesting case. He was once a top prospect in the organization but has faded since 2014. He was moved from short to 2nd due to questions about his arm strength. Attitude and lack of hustle has kept him in Triple-A for 2 seasons. He also got some work in the outfield last year.

Hanson has elite base stealing speed. I don’t think the Pirates will let him go through waivers trying to option him back to Indy. I think he makes the roster on Opening Day filling the 5th and final bench spot.

Of course, if the Pirates trade J-Hay, they will need to fill another roster spot on the 25-man roster. J-Hay is due $7.5 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2018. His 2 option years in 2019 and 2020 are worth $10.5 million and $11 million. If there is one thing the Pirates love, it is “financial flexibility.”

I understand the business aspect of the game in wanting to move guys like J-Hay or Cutch, but if you’re freeing up all this money you have to be willing to reallocate it where needed.

It appeals to the payroll to get 6 years of Adam Frazier and Alen Hanson at $500,000 each (league minimum til 2020) over at least 2 years of a declining Josh Harrison at $17.5 million. A lot of it banks on Frazier duplicating his 2016 for a full season and Hanson stepping up with only 31 career AB’s above Triple-A.

Pittsburgh has to be looking for a young, major league ready arm in return. The FA pitching market is thin and guys like Edison Volquez, who would’ve been a great candidate to return to the Bucs, are signing 2 year, $22 million contracts. Teams will definitely overpay for starters. Pittsburgh can’t do it. J-Hay will definitely draw some interest and can help in getting what they desire.

It doesn’t hurt to listen on the offers. It could be an intriguing move for the Bucs. I’d like to see a move made for a Tampa Bay starter (Jake Odorizzi or Drew Smyly) who are both cheap and under team control, but I don’t think the Rays take on J-Hay’s contract being in a similar boat to Pittsburgh financially.

The Dodgers could be a potential landing spot for J-Hay. Chase Utley is a free agent and the Dodgers are unlikely to resign him. J-Hay provides great defense that could pair great with Corey Seager up the middle. The Dodgers could use J-Hay in a super utility role also. Plus, and the Dodgers are loaded on pitching.

There are a couple other 2nd basemen that might appeal more to teams. Ian Kinsler and Brian Dozier are reportedly being shopped as well. But the Tigers or Twins might have prices that are too high and teams would come looking to Pittsburgh.

If the Pirates can get a good, starting arm in return then I say go for it. Use the money saved to sign a free agent pitcher to fill the final void in the rotation.

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