Yesterday, the baseball world was rocked when the Mets announced that former Ace Matt Harvey refused to accept a minor league stint and was, therefore, DFA’d on Saturday morning. So… should the Mariners pursue?
We actually posted this question on Twitter (@sodomojo) and got a variety of responses. From my rough estimate, Mariners fans were split 50-50 between the possibility of Matt Harvey and the Mariners. In cases like this, it is often helpful to look at the pro’s and con’s from both sides. Let’s take a look.
Pro Matt Harvey Argument
First and foremost, the Mariners have a need for pitching. Jerry Dipoto so strongly distrusts his current farm system that he and Scott Servais are using Wade LeBlanc as it’s 5th starter. Harvey could help bring upside to the back-end of the rotation.
After all, from 2012-2016, Harvey posted a 2.94 ERA over 500+ innings. In that stretch, Harvey posted a good 9.1 K/9 ratio with an outstanding 2.0 BB/9 rate as well. This even includes 2014, when he missed all season recovering from Tommy John surgery, as well as 2 post-TJ seasons in 2015 and 2016.
Harvey is also just 29-years-old and in the grand scheme of things in relatively cheap. He will cost the Mariners next to nothing in a trade. Harvey still has a decent fastball/slider combo and could be a classic change of scenery guy.
Perhaps, it is argued, getting out of the spotlight of New York City is exactly what the young guy needs. The Mariners need pitching depth, have some money to spend, and have open spots on the 40 man roster. All seems reasonable.
Anti Matt Harvey Argument
In the past 2 seasons, Matt Harvey has been one of the worst starters in the game. Since 2017, Harvey has posted a 6.77 ERA, averaging just 6.5 K/9. Even worse, his walk rate has more than doubled to a whopping 4.2 BB/9.
On top of the command issues, Harvey has seen his average fastball velo plummet from 96.6 mph in 2015 to 93.1 in 2018. While $5 million is not a ridiculous amount, it isn’t chump change. What if that prevents Seattle from adding real pitching at the deadline?
In addition to his on the field problems, Harvey has been late to several team functions thanks to a party habit, and literally refused to go the minor leagues after throwing a fit about his demotion to the bullpen. It isn’t hard to draw a line from that to clubhouse cancer.
As you can see, both sides make very good arguments. Personally, I sit on the fence on this one, unsure of where to go. The ideal situation would be that nobody claims Harvey and Dipoto can find a way to sell him on Seattle if he is willing to make some adjustments in AAA Tacoma for a few months. Based on what we know about Harvey… it doesn’t seem likely.
A trade could be swung and Harvey could be sent to Tacoma since he does have options left. But if he was unwilling to go to AAA for the Mets, would he do it for Seattle? In the end, my solution is a swap of Marc Rzepczynski for Matt Harvey.
The salaries essentially even out, the Mets get a veteran reliever and the Mariners get a lottery ticket. If Harvey refuses assignment to Tacoma, you either let him retire or place him on the commissioner’s exempt list. Either way, the Mariners would not be on the hook for his salary and would have $4 million more to play with. It seems like a win-win.
If Harvey is willing to work and make the changes necessary, he might be able to help the Mariners in 2018. But is he worth that risk? Only time will tell.