Josh Harrison's injury could significantly change the Pirates' approach at the trade deadline. Whereas before their search for position players looked like it might be fairly limited (to an outfielder or maybe a first baseman or bench bat), now they could conceivably expand their search to third base as well. Of course, the most current estimate is that Harrison will be out six weeks, so they can get the most out of a potential deal if they strike sooner rather than later. Maybe that's not realistic, since the trade market for top players isn't yet in full swing. And maybe hanging tight at third is the way to go, since Harrison won't be out forever and Jung-Ho Kang is a perfectly reasonable replacement.
Then again, Harrison's versatility could give the Pirates flexibility to acquire any number of player types, knowing they can just move Harrison around the diamond once he returns. If the the Bucs are able and willing to make a move, here's a look at potential third base trade targets, many of which admittedly aren't likely. It's a seller's market, and it takes imagination to figure out trade ideas.
-P- Ben Zobrist, Athletics. Zobrist would be a cool addition because his versatility would prevent him from ever blocking anyone, even after Harrison returned. He hasn't played third base since 2010, but he still plays second and even played 31 games at shortstop last year, so I see no reason he couldn't play third. He could also potentially play outfield against lefties. The problem is the price -- the Mets are already reportedly willing to pay heavily for Zobrist, and the A's gave up their top prospect to get him last offseason.
-P- Aramis Ramirez, Brewers. Ramirez isn't as good as Zobrist and he isn't versatile, but he would presumably cost less to acquire. It's unclear, however, whether the Pirates would want to send prospects to an NL Central rival. Ramirez is eligible for free agency after the season, and he's likely to retire. It would be pretty strange if he came back to Pittsburgh for the last few months of his career.
-P- Brett Lawrie, Athletics. The A's are out of the race, and Billy Beane loves to trade, so why not? Lawrie's no Josh Donaldson, but he's a good hitter who's controlled through 2017 at what should be reasonable prices. The Pirates could conceivably move him, Harrison or Kang to second base next year if they part ways with Neil Walker.
-P- Justin Turner, Dodgers. Turner has played brilliantly for a contending team this year, hitting .315/.386/.562, so he isn't the kind of player who would normally be available. The Dodgers have plenty of good players to cover second and third, though, in Howie Kendrick, Alex Guerrero and Hector Olivera. Unfortunately, they probably won't deal Turner until after Olivera returns from the minor-league DL, and even then, the Dodgers would likely want big-league talent in return.
Let's get creative
-P- Luis Valbuena, Astros. Houston is, of course, contending, but it's safe to say Carlos Correa now has their shortstop job on lock, but Jed Lowrie will be back at the end of July, which could mean there's no space for Valbuena. He currently has a .196 BABIP and might be a good buy-low candidate.
-P- Trevor Plouffe, Twins. Like the Astros, the Twins are still contending. But perhaps they could be persuaded to part with Plouffe if Miguel Sano continues to impress. As with the Astros and Dodgers, though, the Twins might well want big-league talent in return if they were to trade a good big-leaguer.
Unlikely, but worth mentioning
-P- Brock Holt, Red Sox. For this to work, the Red Sox would have to decide they're sellers, but they've played fairly well recently and arguably aren't out of the squashed AL playoff picture, so that probably can't happen right now. It also be a bit much to ask for the Red Sox to give up a cost-controlled player recently named to the All-Star team. (Not bad for a guy everyone thought was just a throw-in when the Bucs sent him to Boston in the Joel Hanrahan deal.)
-P- Martin Prado, Marlins. Prado's still good and versatile, and the Marlins would almost certainly trade him. He's also signed to a reasonable contract -- he's owed $11 million next year, but the Yankees are already on the hook for $3 million of that. Unfortunately, he's currently out with a shoulder sprain, so it might be tough for the Pirates to get the timing right here.
-P- Todd Frazier, Reds. Not at all likely, and I'm not even sure it should be, since the prospect cost would be enormous and it would be a pretty clear case of buying high.
-P- Adrian Beltre, Rangers. There would be all kinds of obstacles to the Pirates acquiring Beltre. Like almost everyone else in the AL, the Rangers aren't out of the playoff race. Beltre has limited no-trade protection, although it's not clear whether he can block a trade to Pittsburgh. And Beltre is owed $18 million next season. The possibility of a deal could increase if, say, the Rangers have a really bad couple of weeks and drop out of the race.
On the market, but ... no
-P- Chris Johnson, Braves. Johnson clearly seems to be available, but he wouldn't be a particularly attractive target for the Pirates. He's hit very badly for two years running, isn't a plus defensive player, and is under contract through 2017. Even if the Braves were to include a better player in the deal as a way of inducing the Pirates to take on salary, Johnson doesn't look like he'd help.
Thanks to Jeff Todd and Steve Adams of MLBTR for their help with this post.