Let’s lay out something important right here up front: present-day Matt Harvey is not the guy you might remember as one of the most dominant-appearing young right-handers in the last 15 years. (That’s not an exaggeration of who he used to be, by the way – in 2013, Harvey was so good that he posted a 6.5 WAR in just 178.1 innings.)
That guy has faded into four years of injuries, surgeries, off-field drama, and mostly poor performance. There was some doubt about whether the Mets would even tender a contract to the 28-year-old this offseason.
They did tender him, however, and MLBTR projects Harvey will make $5.9 million before hitting free agency after the 2018 season. For a guy who unsuccessfully returned from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2017 (6.70 ERA and equally awful peripherals in 92.2 innings), that’s a pricey pure role of the dice.
So, naturally, the Mets are seeing if there are any other teams out there that might want to take their spot at the craps table. One of the teams apparently showing some interest? The Cubs:
Cubs have shown some interest in Matt Harvey. As with O's and Rangers, unclear how serious as of yet.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 12, 2017
To be certain, you wouldn’t be adding Harvey to be a sure-fire member of your rotation in 2018 – not if you have playoff aspirations. Instead, you’d be adding him to see if being a year further removed from surgery (a surgery very few have come back from) will make all the difference, and you can get a solid back-of-rotation arm on the cheap (or maybe a surprising bullpen convert, depending on where your needs are). In fairness to Harvey, he did come back from Tommy John surgery as a fairly effective pitcher in 2015. Heck, remember how good he looked against the Cubs in the NLCS?
It’s just that, after that, he had problems with his shoulder, had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, then had a fracture scapula, had surgery to correct that, and all the while posted utterly terrible numbers in 2016 and 2017 when he was on the mound.
As an arbitration-level player, Harvey’s contract is not fully-guaranteed until the season starts, so, if he comes to Spring Training and looks toast, you can cut him for 30 or 45 days termination pay and move on. From a money standpoint, it’s a “sure, why not?” kind of risk.
But would you actually give up anything of value in trade to get Harvey right now? I don’t see how you could. Certainly not more than the Cubs gave up last year to bring in guys like Eddie Butler (relief prospect James Farris) and Alec Mills (outfield prospect Donnie Dewees).
So we’ll keep an eye on this one. I doubt anything comes of it, but, like a said, if it’s a no-cost, low-risk, why-not, depth play? OK, sure.