Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Harrison warms-up before the start of their Opening day baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds played Monday, April 6, 2015 in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael E. Keating)
Michael E. Keating
April 08, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) Josh Harrison's family filled the first two rows of the interview room. His 1-year-old daughter yelled ''Dad!'' when the Pirates third baseman sat down at a table in the front of the room to discuss his $27.3 million, four-year contract.

Then, little Mia started crying.

''Wow!'' Harrison said. ''It's going to be tough to follow that up.''

Actually, the toughest part for Harrison was getting this far.

Coming off his whirlwind 2014 season, the All-Star signed a deal on Wednesday that makes him one of Pittsburgh's cornerstones as it tries to build upon consecutive wild card playoff appearances.

''I think it's a no-brainer to want to be part of something as special as what we've had the past couple years because we're only going to get better,'' Harrison said. ''When presented with this opportunity, I said I definitely want to be part of a group that's continuing to get better.''

The Pirates think the 27-year-old infielder will make them better for at least the next four years.

Harrison finished second in the NL with a .315 batting average last season and ninth in the MVP race. He agreed to a $2.8 million, one-year deal in January and would have been eligible for free agency after the 2018 season.

His new deal includes a pair of club options that will bring the total to $48.3 million if they're both exercised.

Harrison gets a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $2.8 million this year, $5 million in 2016, $7.5 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2018. Pittsburgh has a $10.5 million option for 2019 with a $1 million buyout and, if that is exercised, an $11.5 million option for 2020 with a $500,000 buyout. The option prices could escalate by up to $1 million based on his finish in MVP voting.

''He's the kind of guy that I believe you can bet on,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''It's always fun to watch a player that works hard, that believes, that perseveres, be rewarded.''

Harrison grew up in Cincinnati and played at the University of Cincinnati for three years. He spent the first three-plus years of his major league career as a utility player before earning a surprise All-Star selection last summer.

He moved to third base permanently in the second half of the season while fueling Pittsburgh's run to a second straight wild card berth.

Harrison is a career .283 hitter with 20 home runs, 98 RBIs and 143 runs scored in 373 games with Pittsburgh.

His agents and the Pirates had been discussing a multiyear deal for the last few years. The holdup was getting the fourth year guaranteed. When the Pirates agreed, the deal was completed.

''What he's done since the day he became member of the Pirates is hit, show up with energy, show up with enthusiasm, show up with positivity, show up with grit, show up ready to win,'' general manager Neal Huntington said. ''It just took us a little while to recognize he's going to be able to hit the way he hits at the major league level.''

Harrison got to make his first opening day start on Monday in his hometown and had a single and a double during the Reds' 5-2 win. His new contract was essentially completed on Tuesday, the teams' day off. It was announced before a night game against the Reds.

''It's really special to be at home and having my family here,'' he said.


Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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