Matt Harvey, New York Mets starting pitcher, has been designated for assignment, and there has already been talk amongst Texas Rangers fans about Harvey, looking at old rumors of the Rangers and Mets discussing a possible trade, and speculating about the Rangers getting him.
After all, the Rangers pitching is terrible, Harvey was an ace not long ago, and so surely you’d rather get rid of Matt Moore to try to take a chance on Matt Harvey if you are in the Rangers’ situation, right?
No. From the outside, there appears to be little reason for the Rangers to go get Matt Harvey at this stage.
Matt Harvey was terrific once upon a time. He was awesome for the Mets in 2012-13, missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery, then returned to the team for 2015 and was terrific again. Up through the end of 2015, he put up a 2.53 ERA and a 2.65 FIP in 427 innings pitched over 65 starts, striking out 9.5 batters per 9, walking 2.0 batters per 9 and giving up 0.6 HR per 9. He was a legitimate #1 starting pitcher.
Since 2015, though? Its all gone south. He only logged 92.2 IP in 2016, over 17 starts, with a 4.86 ERA. In 2017, he threw 92.2 IP again, with a 6.70 ERA. In 2018, prior to being designated for assignment, he had a 7.00 ERA in 27 IP over 4 starts and 4 relief appearances.
In total, from 2016 through the present, Harvey has a 5.93 ERA and a 5.02 FIP over 212.1 IP, with 6.9 K/9, 3.4 walks per 9, and 1.5 HR per 9. He’s put up an aggregate -1.5 bWAR during that stretch. He is, quite simply, not close to being the pitcher he was three years ago.
But hey, he can’t be any worse than Matt Moore, right? Why not cut Moore loose and get Harvey?
Well, there’s no real reason to believe Harvey would be better than Matt Moore right now. Moore’s 7.67 ERA is higher than Harvey’s 7.00 ERA in 2018, but because Moore is in a hitter’s park in the American League, and Harvey is in the National League, Moore has the better ERA+ — 62 v. 55. Moore was also better in both 2016 and 2017 than Harvey. And while you’re already on the hook for Moore’s salary for 2018, if he can straighten things out and become serviceable, you have a $10 million team option on Moore for 2019. Harvey is due $5.83 million for the 2018 season, and if he gets another 50 or so days of major league service time, he’ll be a free agent when the year is up.
So Matt Harvey has been bad since the start of 2016, has been awful this season, and even if you can fix him, he can walk after the 2018 season. If you do acquire Harvey, you are moving him to a more difficult league for a pitcher, in a very hitter friendly park, and putting him on a pitching staff where the bullpen is already fairly taxed due to the guys in the rotation failing to log enough innings. And that’s before dealing with the various off-the-field issues and penchant for partying which, if you believe the New York media (which is, of course, a dicey proposition), has alienated some of his current teammates.
Oh, and the reason the Mets are designating him for assignment is because he refused to go to the minors, so trying to acquire him with the thought that you could send him to the minors to work on things would seem to be a non-starter.
Look, if Matt Harvey clears waivers, and the Mets release him, and you have the opportunity to sign him on a minor league deal to go to Round Rock and pitch in the rotation there, that’s one thing. There’s no harm in a minor league deal. There’s no real risk there.
But if we’re talking about claiming him, or working out a deal to acquire him from the Mets via trade, and putting him on the major league staff? Hard pass.