No team with a top-five payroll has a winning record and four are in last place

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This obviously isn’t going to last all season, but right now it’s pretty damn startling to look at the standings and see that the five teams with the highest payrolls in MLB are all .500 or worse and four of them are currently in last place.

New York leads MLB with a $198 million payroll, yet the Yankees are 21-21 and tied for last place in the AL East with the Red Sox, who have MLB’s third-highest payroll at $173 million.

Philadelphia sits between them in payroll at $175 million and the Phillies are bringing up the rear in the NL East at 21-22. Similarly the Angels rank fourth with a $155 million payroll and are the AL West’s last-place team at 18-25. Detroit is the only top-five payroll to avoid last place, but the Tigers and their $132 million payroll aren’t exactly thriving with a 20-21 record that’s good for third place in the horrendous AL Central.

Add it all up and those five teams have spent around $833 million on players for this season, and after one quarter of the schedule they’re a combined 101-110 and 27 total games out of first place.

All of which makes me wonder: When it comes to the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, and Phillies making the playoffs this season, how you would bet if the over/under was set at 2.5 teams? I’d likely still take the over.

Josh Harrison wants out of Pittsburgh

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In the wake of the Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole trades, Pirates infielder Josh Harrison released a statement to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic today in which he said he’d like to be traded if the Pirates are going to rebuild over the next couple of years.

Harrison said “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,” He couched it all in is love of Pittsburgh and his desire to win in Pittsburgh, adding “I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer,” but he said “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.”

Harrison is under team control on a very team-friendly contract that has him locked up through 2018 with the Pirates holding pretty cheap team options for 2019 and 2020. He’ll make $10 million this year and if the Pirates want to keep him they’ll owe him $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020, with $1 million and $500,000 buyouts, respectively. Harrison played second, third and in the outfield in 2017 and hit .272/.339/.432 with 16 homers and 12 stolen bases.

Part of Harrison’s statement included the phrase “baseball is a business.” That is correct, and when Harrison signed his deal he had to know that the Pirates could blow things up, trade him or anything else during its term. That’s simply a risk one runs when one agrees to a deal that buys out free agency years. At the same time, it can’t be at all fun to be part of a tear-down process the likes of which is now getting underway in Pittsburgh, and it’d be hard to say any of us would feel differently than Harrison does if we were in his shoes.

All of that said, Harrison may very well get his wish. Rosenthal writes that the Mets, Yankees, and Brewers are among the teams with reported interest in Harrison. There are probably way more who would make a good offer for him given his versatility and given how often recent World Series winners have featured a player with exactly that kind of versatility (think Ben Zobrist and Marwin Gonzalez).

My guess is that he’s either going to be dealt now or at the deadline this coming season.