Matt Harvey has gone from being the Dark Night to the Dark enigma. At the same time, while he hasn’t been the dominant ace the New York Mets once heavily relied on, Sandy Alderson and company are better off keeping Harvey for the final year of his deal, instead of trading him.
Throughout the MLB Winter Meetings, many teams and players have been involved in trade discussions, the Mets included. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets were engaged with the Texas Rangers on a deal that would send Harvey to Texas in exchange for second baseman Jurickson Profar. The Mets are also said to have a suitor for Harvey in the Baltimore Orioles, who they have discussed a deal with, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
To see the Mets discussing the idea of trading Harvey for Profar — who has proven to be injury-prone and hasn’t yet had a breakout year — and/or simply a bullpen arm, puts in perspective how bad it has gotten for the righty, in terms of how others teams view him.
It’s no secret that Harvey is not the elite, Cy Young caliber righty of old, which the last two seasons have proved.
After the team’s NL Pennant run in 2015, the Dark Knight has fallen off a cliff. He began to put runners on base at ease, get hit hard and lost his command. Pitching to a career-worst 4.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, Harvey was not the ace Terry Collins and the Mets saw him grow into the year prior — when he pitched them to the World Series. In addition to his inability to pitch at a high level, Harvey saw his season end early due to injury.
Undergoing right shoulder thoracic surgery, the Mets were forced to shut down Harvey for the reminder of the season. The ensuing year, he was unable to come back strong.
Pitching to an abysmal 6.70 ERA and 1.69 WHIP, the Mets’ homegrown righty endured, without a doubt, the worst season of his five-year career. Unfortunately for Harvey, injuries continued to plague him.
Suffering a tight left hamstring and a right scapula injury, the Dark Knight was limited to just 19 appearances on the hill in 2017. In his return from injury (early September), he saw little to no improvement in his command or velocity. Pitching to an 11.28 ERA and recording just 13 strikeouts in his six starts throughout the month of September, Harvey showed no signs of a potential resurgence, or any chance of being a reliable rotation arm.
Injuries, inconsistency and command, or lack thereof, significantly affected Harvey’s 2017 season and in the worst way possible. His fastball, once in the high 90s, found itself down in the low 90s, he didn’t have his command, put runners on base all too often (a career-high 47 walks in just 18 starts) and simply posed little to no threat on the rubber; it wasn’t the Harvey of old and a sign of what’s to come. Simultaneously, with the 28-year-old hitting the open market after the 2018 season, the Mets would get very little out of trading Harvey before Spring Training.
If the market for Harvey is as low as Profar, or a reliever, then the Mets are better off retaining him.
At the end of the 2018 season, chances are the Mets and Harvey will head in separate directions, regardless of how well he pitches; it has simply gone off the rails between the two parties. Whether it be getting stuck in traffic and missing a mandatory workout before the 2015 playoffs, the innings restriction dilemma between the Mets and his agent Scott Boras after his Tommy John surgery the year before, or simply the injuries he’s endured over the past two seasons, the writing is on the wall for Harvey — his time as a Met is coming to an end.
It’s important that the Mets do their due diligence and see what they can get for Harvey in a trade, but also be careful to not just give him away. Management is not inclined, nor should they, to just rid themselves of Harvey. If it reaches the point where management is getting spare parts or little to no value in return for the righty, they should hold onto Harvey until his contract expires.
Harvey likely won’t rekindle his ace status in 2018, but the Mets should, at the very least, see what he can do; just making a deal for the sake of making one would be unwise.