While Matt Harvey could probably be had, the Boston Red Sox should avoid him for now unless he comes at a cheaper price than Blake Swihart.
The Boston Red Sox have had a knack for fixing reclamation projects over the last few years with Andrew Miller and Doug Fister being shining examples.
The team has the option to take on another one as the Mets designated Matt Harvey for assignment on Saturday and are currently trying to trade him before he becomes a free agent and they lose him for nothing.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo suggests that it might be a good idea if the Red Sox offer up Blake Swihart to acquire Harvey, even if the chances of it actually happening are remote.
"The Mets finally had enough of Harvey’s attitude and performance and designated him for assignment. They’ll try to deal him, but given his recent outings that may be tough. Yet, teams need pitching, and if one thinks it can resurrect Harvey’s career, it will deal for him. There’s been some suggestion he may be offered to the Red Sox for Blake Swihart, but the Sox don’t appear interested in that swap."
While that might be true for now, the question remains whether this trade is realistic, and more importantly, a good deal for both sides.
Well, let’s delve into that.
From the Mets end, this deal could make total sense. They have struggled mightily at the catcher position this season, with both Kevin Plawecki (broken left hand) and Travis d’Arnaud (Tommy John surgery) going down with injuries.
Plawecki is expected to be back within the next couple of for the team but has not been great for his career with a career slash line of .219/.309/.305 with seven home runs and 46 RBI in 485 at-bats.
However, Travis d’Arnaud will not return this season for the team and is just hoping to be ready for Spring Training of 2019.
Currently, the team has employed Jose Lobaton and rookie catcher, Tomas Nido, at the position. Neither has impressed. Lobaton only has six hits in 39 at-bats (.154 average) while Nido has only had five hits in 34 at-bats (.147 average).
So, yes, the need for a catcher is there. While Swihart might not necessarily end up being the catcher they would hope for with a .160/.250/.200 slash line for the season, he certainly would not be a downgrade.
He also, being a former top-prospect, offers some legitimate upside as a 23-year old backstop with control through the 2023 season.
If the Mets could get that for Harvey, who has already been DFA’d, they would and should jump at the offer.
Now, does this make sense for the Boston Red Sox? I’d say no, and here is why.
So, when you think of Matt Harvey, what comes to mind?
Well, usually it’s the superstar version of Harvey that was an ace in 2013. That version of the “Dark Knight” was absolutely phenomenal as the 2013 Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 191 strikeouts in 178 1/3 innings pitched before getting hurt and missing the entire 2014 season as a result of Tommy John surgery.
In his first season back from the surgery, he was still very good with a 13-8 record, 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 188 strikeouts in 189 1/3 innings pitched.
Since then, Harvey has not been even close to that pitcher, though. In 2016, many pegged Harvey as a Cy Young favorite with the belief that he would be even better after a full year without Tommy John surgery on everyone’s mind.
That didn’t happen, as Harvey went 4-10 in 17 starts with a 4.86 ERA before it was discovered that the right-hander would need surgery for a career-altering injury, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which was causing him to lose feeling in his arm.
Well, that surgery has not been successful for many pitchers in the past, as Phil Hughes and Chein-Ming Wang were both ineffective after the surgery and Tyson Ross is the most successful recipient of it to date.
There is an even bigger problem with that, though. None of them relied on a 97-99 MPH fastball to get them through their outings like Harvey did when he dominated.
Once Harvey returned in 2017, he went 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA and only 67 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings. Another issue Harvey encountered was his inability to find the plate. He walked 47 batters in that season, even with an injury that shortened it, after only walking 68 batters in 2013 and 2015 combined.
His average fastball velocity also dropped down to 94.3 MPH, as detailed by FanGraphs.
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Despite that, the Mets decided to tender the 29-year old a contract this offseason in his last year of arbitration, with the belief that Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland could fix the right-hander.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. In eight games (four starts), Harvey was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA and six home runs allowed in only 27 innings.
Even worse, is his average fastball velocity has dropped again to 93.1 MPH.
On top of it, he has dealt with some off-the-field issues over the last two years as he got suspended by the Mets on May 7 of last year after missing the game prior because he was drinking until 4 a.m.
This season he dealt with a similar situation as he went out partying in Los Angeles the night before one of his relief appearances in San Diego.
So, after assessing all of this, should the Red Sox take a shot on Harvey?
Maybe, but to give up anything of value appears unnecessary at this point, with the strong possibility that Harvey might never be the same pitcher ever again.
That being said, maybe the team views Swihart as excess at this point, with both Christian Vasquez and Sandy Leon ahead of him on the depth chart.