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Should I Stay or Should I Go: Josh Harrison

Aiming low and hitting the mark

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
You really can’t argue with what Josh Harrison brought to the White Sox in 2022.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

bWAR: 1.5
fWAR: 1.3
WARP: 0.5

He should stay Harrison has a $5.5 million team option with a $1.5 million buyout for 2023, so retaining him is really a $4 million decision, which isn’t a prohibitive expenditure. After a disastrous opening two months to the season, Harrison recovered to produce roughly league average production for the remainder, with sound and sometimes stellar defense at second and third base. He remains a great clubhouse presence and an easy guy to root for at all times.

He should go Those first two months of the season were really, really bad, and this is now the second season in a row where he’s basically disappeared for a third of it. Harrison has a demonstrably low ceiling to return for his age-35 season, especially given his lack of power, and at his age the cliff could always be right around the corner (especially as a defense-first player). His presence exacerbates existing issues in the lineup: right-handedness, lack of power, free-swinging, low OBP/walk rate, and so on. If there’s one strength in the White Sox upper minors right now, it’s players who could conceivably replace what Harrison provides.

The verdict I fully expected Harrison to be a typical dud Rick Hahn signing, and through May my worst fears were being realized. But Harrison recovered to provide the sort of season overall that was expected and hoped for. He also lived up to his reputation as a solid clubhouse guy and fun player. However, I would not be for an encore presentation. This team is already too invested in older players (their position player group was the second-oldest in the AL), and there’s not much more to hope for from Harrison and plenty to fear in terms of potential for collapse. Additionally, Harrison plate appearances were a constant source of frustration, as the man seemingly swung at everything, even in situations which warranted a more patient approach. Finally, despite his good hustle and friendly reputation, it didn’t do anything to galvanize the team around him to improve their own level of effort or prevent the season-long malaise. If the payroll is gonna get cut, this is one place to start where one could reasonably hope for as much or more from prospects like Lenyn Sosa, José Rodríguez, Romy González, and Yolbert Sánchez. Even a middling free agent like Adam Frazier or Brandon Drury could potentially provide something more akin to what the team needs at a non-prohibitive cost.