The Tigers are in agreement with two-time All-Star Josh Harrison on a one-year contract, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported on Wednesday:
Free-agent infielder Josh Harrison in agreement with the #Tigers on a one-year contract, pending physical, source tells The Athletic. Expected to their everyday second baseman.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 20, 2019
Harrison, 31, has spent most of his career as somewhat of a poor man’s Ben Zobrist, getting near-everyday playing time but moving all around the diamond: He’s seen action at every position except catcher, first base, and center field during his eight-year career, which has been spent entirely with the Pirates until now. With that said, he seems to be past his athletic prime at this point, and in 2018 he made all 84 of his starts in the field at second base, marking the second time in the last three seasons and only the second time in his major-league career that that had been the case. Fortunately for Harrison, the Tigers had a gaping hole at second, and as Rosenthal suggested in the tweet above, he should be able to entrench himself at that position without the need to move around. He’ll be reunited in the middle infield with longtime double-play partner Jordy Mercer, with whom he played in Pittsburgh from 2012-18.
Harrison, a .277/.317/.408 career hitter, isn’t going to be an explosive offensive presence — he’s posted an above-average park-adjusted OPS just twice in eight seasons, and he only has two double-digit homer campaigns — but he should be a decent contact hitter in a lineup that quite frankly wasn’t very intriguing at all prior to his arrival (and still isn’t exciting with him in it).
If nothing else, he’ll bring some veteran leadership to a Tigers team that is severely lacking it; aside from Mercer and Miguel Cabrera, whose availability is going to be a question mark moving forward after he had season-ending biceps surgery in 2018, the Tigers didn’t really have any other veteran position players on their roster who most would consider to be well-established in the big leagues. While most of us recognize that having done it before isn’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to having success in baseball in 2019, it can’t hurt to have a guy like Harrison who really knows how the league works when you have such an inexperienced roster.