Earlier today at baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, Milwaukee Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell held his press conference for the assembled media. Among the topics that were discussed included how he and GM David Stearns are searching for and discussing different avenues of putting together 27 outs next season. It’s no secret that the Brewers are looking to beef up their pitching staff for 2018, and a recent report has surfaced connecting them to Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.
Yesterday Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily news reported that the Mets are on the lookout for “a second baseman, a difference-making reliever and insurance at first base and in the outfield” and are willing to move Harvey in order to address one of those needs. Matthew Cerrone of SportsNet New York followed up on that report today, saying that multiple teams would be willing to make a deal for the former ace, including the Orioles, Yankees, A's, and our own Milwaukee Brewers.
Cerrone suggests that those teams listed would be interested in dealing a reliever for Harvey, but the Brewers may match up better by addressing one of New York’s other needs. Neither Corey Knebel nor Josh Hader would make sense in a swap like this, though perhaps Jacob Barnes’ upside could be sold as an “impact reliever.” The Brewers do have depth in the outfield and around the infield that could be of interest to New York, however. The Brewers have already received some trade interest in Keon Broxton, who they are believed to be willing to move. Jonathan Villar and Hernan Perez have the ability to play second base and are out of minor league options, while first baseman Jesus Aguilar is also out of options, though there’s been no specific indication that Milwaukee is looking to deal any of those players.
Harvey, who turns 29 next spring, was once discussed among the premier pitchers in all of baseball. He finished 4th in Cy Young award voting in 2014 after turning in 178.1 innings of 2.27 ERA ball, striking out 191 batters against only 31 walks while posting a DRA- of 50. He missed the following season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned for an excellent 2015 campaign that saw him compile a 2.71 ERA and 66 DRA- across 189.1 innings while helping lead New York to an NL pennant.
His effectiveness began to dwindle in 2016, however, as he lost a mile-per-hour off his average fastball and could muster only a 4.86 ERA and 106 DRA- across 92.2 innings before his season was cut short by surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The wheels fell off upon his return in 2017, as Harvey lost yet another MPH off his heater (down to 94.6 MPH) and coughed up an unsightly 6.70 ERA and 157 DRA- in 92.2 innings while allowing a ghastly 2.0 HR/9. He missed two and a half months in the middle of the season with a stress injury to the scapula in his right shoulder and posted an 11.28 ERA in 5 starts upon his return in September.
Harvey will be a free agent after the 2018 season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $5.9 mil during his final year of arbitration eligibility. His value has probably never been lower after two subpar and injury-marred campaigns and the onus would fall on Milwaukee’s coaching staff, specifically pitching coach Derek Johnson, to help Harvey find some tweak and regain his prior form. But there are worse buy-low candidates than a guy who authored a 2.53 ERA through his first 65 big league starts and has topped 5 WARP twice during his four full seasons in the big leagues.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus