Matt Harvey fits the bill for what the Yankees are looking for as their fifth starter. Why not bring him home?
Matt Harvey never wanted to leave New York City, but he did understand why he had to go. Shipped off to Cincinnati by the Mets, Harvey pulled himself together enough to make 24 starts for the Reds while averaging 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings, his highest since 2015.
More significant, Matt Harvey removed himself entirely from news stories about any off the field escapades that contributed to his demise with the Mets as much as his ineffective pitching.
Reports at the moment indicate that Brian Cashman is centering his efforts around J.A. Happ, who pitched effectively for the Yankees following his acquisition in a trade with the Bluejays.
Happ, however, knows this is the last contract he will sign, so he wants a three-year deal. With the pitching coming up in their farm system, the smart move for the Yankees is to get a pinch hitter for one year, rather than being locked into an old arm and a massive chunk of money.
Matt Harvey left something behind in New York City. Namely, it’s his reputation sitting there as unfinished business, and he is naturally motivated to bounce back with a second chance to do things differently.
For that chance, Harvey can be signed to a one-year deal with a team option for a second season, perhaps loaded with incentives. He can be given fifteen starts or so, after which the Yankees can go from there. If Matt Harvey performs to the level he is capable of; the Yankees remain in control to keep him or trade at the deadline.
Matt Harvey does not belong in Cincinnati, San Diego, or Oakland, three clubs interested in signing him. He belongs in New York, and specifically Manhattan. He wants to be Broadway Joe Namath, but he has yet to prove he can be where it counts – as a winning pitcher. After all, even at this stage of his career, Matt Harvey still has a career record three games under .500.
Matt Harvey has not been blessed with good health, and this has held him back from being a premier starting pitcher who could have been in the same conversation as Patrick Corbin in this, his free agency year.
As it stands, Matt Harvey has not even cracked the $6 million mark for a year’s pay, and who would have believed that five years ago? A client of Steve Boras, he should be in a position demanding a multi-year deal worth upwards of $100 million. Except, reality stepped in, and for all practical purposes Matt Harvey stands on the cusp of begging a team to take him on.
The test for the Yankees and Brian Cashman is to ascertain whether or not Matt Harvey passes the “humility test.” Is he still a hidden drama queen, who did his due diligence in Cincinnati, and is now bursting at the seams for an opportunity to be Hollywood again in California or New York?
Some would say once a brat, always a brat, making Matt Harvey a risk not worth taking. Could be, but I’m not convinced. Matt Harvey, above all else, is a professional ballplayer and that competitive nature never goes away. His career has fizzled almost to nothing. What was – is no more.
For me, that says a lot, and it warrants at least a conversation between the Yankees and Matt Harvey to see if the timing is right to consummate a deal that could be a sleeper, surprising everyone, including the involved parties.
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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