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Source: Harrison, Tigers agree to deal

@beckjason
February 20, 2019

LAKELAND, Fla. – For the second time this offseason, the Tigers have turned to a former Pirates middle infielder to help fill a void. The team spent Wednesday working toward a one-year contract with second baseman Josh Harrison, a source confirmed to MLB.com. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal first reported

LAKELAND, Fla. – For the second time this offseason, the Tigers have turned to a former Pirates middle infielder to help fill a void. The team spent Wednesday working toward a one-year contract with second baseman Josh Harrison, a source confirmed to MLB.com.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal first reported that the sides were in agreement. The Tigers have not confirmed the deal, as is their policy when a contract is pending a physical.

The addition would reunite Pittsburgh’s former double-play duo in Detroit, pairing Harrison with shortstop Jordy Mercer. The Tigers signed Mercer to a one-year deal in December.

Just as important, the deal allows the Tigers to shift Niko Goodrum from second base back to the super-utility role in which he thrived last season. In the process, Goodrum could provide starts at first base on days when Miguel Cabrera is the designated hitter, though the Tigers could potentially have room for another signing.

The depth also buys time for the Tigers to let second-base prospect Dawel Lugo continue to develop at Triple-A Toledo. Lugo batted .213 (20-for-94) with one home run and eight RBIs as a late-season callup, but the Tigers would like him to work on his plate discipline and contact before bringing him to Detroit for good.

The 31-year-old Harrison might be best known around Detroit for breaking up former Tiger Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid on May 18, 2012, with a ninth-inning single. But Harrison had plenty of other key at-bats over an eight-year career in Pittsburgh, where he blossomed from a utility infielder to an All-Star second baseman.

Harrison owns a .277 batting average and .725 OPS for his career. He hit .250 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and a .656 OPS in 97 games last season.

The Tigers had kept their options open at second base for much of the offseason, but they had a limited budget for such a signing, with shortstop a more pressing priority. Detroit’s lone deal at second base had been a non-roster invite with former White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who spent parts of the last two years in Seattle.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.