Chicago Cubs: Looking back at the Josh Harrison trade of 2009

Josh Harrison / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Josh Harrison / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Way back in 2009, the Chicago Cubs traded second baseman Josh Harrison to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he became a division foe for many years to come.

2009 seems like forever ago. This was the last season the Chicago Cubs finished over .500 before the Joe Maddon era began. The team came off back-to-back seasons in which they won the division and proceeded to get swept in the first round.

Again, that seems like ages ago, but one player the Cubs dealt with in during this time still has a place in Major League Baseball today and that is Josh Harrison. We take a look at the middle infielder the Cubs traded in 2009 and how that has impacted the team since.

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Chicago drafted Harrison in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB draft. He spent time in the minors before being traded to the Pirates in July 2009 for pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

Grabow proceeded to spend three seasons with the team, posting a 4-4 record and 5.02 ERA as a reliever. Gorzelanny spent two seasons with the team, sporting an 11-11 record with a 4.43 ERA as a starter. They filled a need at the time but they’ve become two forgetful names in the Cubs organization. Harrison, on the other hand, went on to make his mark on the NL Central and the sport, as a whole.

Harrison spent his first eight seasons with the Pirates and became a staple for that organization. In those eight seasons, he had two All-Star appearances, batting .277 with an OPS of .725. He actually finished ninth in National League MVP voting in 2009 with a .315 clip and an .837 OPS.

Not only was Harrison as consistent and reliable as they come, he also was the definition of a utility man. In his time with the Pirates, he played third, second, shortstop and multiple outfield positions. He did it all, as his career WAR of 13.6 can attest to.

The Cubs could’ve used a utility man like Harrison, especially as Maddon came into town in 2015. Sure, Ben Zobrist wound up filling that role admirably, but having someone like Harrison who can play all around the diamond at a productive rate is so valuable under a manager who loves to move his players around.

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It’s interesting to see how something in 2009 has made a long impact on the organization. Perhaps the Cubs didn’t trade Harrison that year and he becomes a staple utility man for the team. Does the trade for Addison Russell happen? Does Darwin Barney take second base from 2011-2014? Maybe not and that’s what is so fascinating about this deal. Two pitchers who had cups of coffee with the team were part of a deal that impacted the makeup of Maddon and his championship-winning Cubs.