Cinello: Deal Harrison to Milwaukee while the iron is hot

Posted on Jan 27 2018 - 8:49am by Joey Cinello
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After dealing Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirates are left with Josh Harrison as their longest-tenured player. The Pirates made him expendable, drawing interest from a few different teams. The Brewers, who can afford to trade young outfield depth, might be perfect suitors for the two-time All-Star. Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

 

On Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers continued building off their 2017 resurgence by acquiring outfielders Lorenzo Cain via free agency and Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins. The duo joins former All-Star Ryan Braun to launch a newly found star-studded outfield, while also giving the Brew Crew flexibility to move Brett Phillips and/or Domingo Santana.

Early reports show the Brewers vying for a starting pitcher in return for at least one of the two.

One name, however, hasn’t been brought up despite the teams being linked all offseason over him: Josh Harrison.

After their recent outfield acquisitions, second base is the only spot on the diamond — perhaps first base, too — that they need to shore up to compete in a packed NL Central.

Who better fits that role than Harrison?

Harrison, a two-time All-Star, amassed career-high numbers in both the on-base and home run categories for Pittsburgh just a year ago. He’d be valuable to the Brewers for years to come.

Jonathan Villar, who hit .240, and Eric Sogard, who hit a modest .273 in just under 300 at-bats, are the two frontrunners for Milwaukee’s second base job. So, there’s no question Harrison makes an immediate impact for them, filling a major need.

Domingo Santana

Domingo Santana provided plenty of pop for the Brewers in 151 games last season, mashing 30 home runs and 85 RBI. Photo Credit: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

 

A return headlined by the Brewers’ Domingo Santana answers a huge question mark as to who joins Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco in the outfield on Opening Day.

Santana is a 25-year-old outfielder loaded with potential. In his first full season with Milwaukee, the young outfielder mashed, slashing .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs, 85 RBI and 15 stolen bases.

Unfortunately, more than likely it’ll take more than just Harrison to swing this deal. Instead, the Pirates probably must include a young starting pitcher on the cusp of being MLB-ready, like Nick Kingham.

Derek Johnson, Brewers pitching coach, would love tutoring Kingham. Last year’s rotation proves that just take a look at it from 2017. Johnson took guys who weren’t highly touted and turned them into a formidable rotation. Somone of Kingham’s prestige, who battled some unfortunate¬†injuries, fits perfectly into his development system.

Brett Phillips

Brett Phillips, a left-hander, is a prototypical hitter built for PNC Park’s dimensions. Photo Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

 

Unlike trading for Santana, a deal centered around Brett Phillips, 23, likely requires only Harrison for the Brewers to accept.

Phillips, ranked Baseball America’s 56th-best prospect following the 2015 season, received a cup of coffee in the big leagues this year, producing a .276 average and four home runs in 87 at-bats.

Being a young guy, even if he lost the luster of baseball’s prospect media gurus, Phillips still projects positively and can turn into a solid everyday outfielder.

Also, if a trade is completed, there’s a chance Neal Huntington might be able to milk a fringe prospect or two along with Phillips. I mean, c’mon… we’re talking about an All-Star utilityman after all.

Another plus comes along with a potential acquisition of Phillips other than his on-field play, and that’s his laugh..

Let’s not forget about Phillips’ legendary scenes poking fun at it:

And some more…

Final Thought

It’s a win-win for both sides; The Brewers fill a gaping hole in their otherwise strong lineup, and the Pirates acquire at least one young, controllable piece moving forward. Oh, scratch another $10.5 million off Pittsburgh’s payroll to spend in other places too.

 

Joe Cinello covers Pirates material for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Connect with him on Facebook (Joey Cinello), Linkedin (Joseph Cinello) and Twitter (@JCinello).

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