Jair Jurrjens victorious in first start back from the minors

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Jair Jurrjens would still be in the minors right now if it wasn’t for Brandon Beachy’s Tommy John surgery, but he made the most out of his opportunity last night.

Jurrjens shined in his return to the majors by limiting the Red Sox to one run over 7 2/3 innings as part of a 4-1 victory. He walked one and struck out four and carried a one-hit shutout through the first seven innings. The only run scored on a double by Daniel Nava in the bottom of the eighth inning which chased him from the game.

Jurrjens made the National League All-Star team last year, but he was limited to just seven starts during the second half due to continued issues with his right knee. His struggles continued in the early part of this season, as he was demoted to the minors in late April after being hammered to the tune of a 9.37 ERA over his first four starts. His results weren’t much better during his time with Triple-A Gwinnett, as he had a 5.10 ERA over 10 starts.

While Jurrjens appears healthy at the moment, his velocity has been missing in action for quite some time now. Even though he was effective last night, he averaged just 89 mph on his fastball and relied heavily on his changeup. He averaged between 91-92 mph on his heater from 2007-2010. Last night was obviously an encouraging step in the right direction and a few more outings like it could lessen the sense of urgency for a trade, but he still has a lot to prove.

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.