We learned earlier today, in a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, that some disagreement has arisen between the Mets and agent Scott Boras regarding the handling of 26-year-old righty Matt Harvey. Boras claims that the club is risking an injury to Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October of 2013, by not adhering to a 180-inning limit this season. (Harvey has already thrown 166 1/3 frames on the year, and has never before exceeded 178 1/3 innings in his career.) In turn, Mets GM Sandy Alderson countered that the team does not believe a hard innings cap should apply.
There’s been plenty more back and forth in the hours since that report emerged. Here’s the latest:
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco addressed the media, saying that the team will not shut down Harvey — who is obviously a key piece of the club’s rotation — down the stretch, as ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin was among those to report. (Rubin also reported earlier that the team would abide by this approach.) Harvey will have at least one start skipped, with the team moving to a six-man rotation, and is expected to end up with between 190 and 195 regular season innings.
- Ricco also said that Harvey will throw a “reasonable” number of innings in the postseason, with the team monitoring how he feels as things proceed. He added that the Mets believe they have only received recommendations from doctors regarding innings totals, as opposed to firm mandates. There is a chance, per Ricco, that Harvey “could end up being shut down” in the course of the playoffs, though he said that same possibility applies to some extent “with all our pitchers.” (That last quote came courtesy of Matt Ehalt of The Record; Twitter links.)
- Boras has made several comments to additional media outlets, including MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio links) and The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM (audio link). While many of his comments reflect what Heyman already reported, those sources are worth a listen for those who are particularly interested in the topic.
- According to Harvey’s representative, determining when to shut down a player under these circumstances “always should be a doctor’s decision.” Going into the year, per Boras, there was agreement on all sides that there should be limits, which “had to be defined by doctors as the season unfolded.” When the subject was addressed in August, says Boras, even the club’s own physician expressed that the advice of the surgeon — in this case, the esteemed Dr. James Andrews — should be followed.
- The parallels to the Nationals’ shutdown of Stephen Strasburg back in 2012 are hard to ignore, of course. Boras told ESPN Radio that the Nationals never allowed the decision to reach the player, instead deciding to follow the “expert medical opinion” in that case to shut down their staff ace when he reached his specified load (and also to pitch him on regular rest over the course of the season). For the Mets to extend Harvey beyond the medical advice, says the super-agent, is an unprecedented decision that puts the righty in “unfound territory” moving forward — in part because doctors are not sure that he’ll be able to continue his usual level of performance the rest of the way.
- There are no immediate transactional implications for this decision, aside from the fact that Harvey will have an opportunity to increase his 2016 arbitration salary, but the long-term ramifications are potentially broad. Harvey can be controlled via arbitration through 2018. With Boras as his agent, he may be unlikely to reach an extension regardless of whether this matter affects his relationship with the club in any way. (It is worth noting that, according to Boras, Harvey authorized him to discuss the matter with the media.) Any long-term health issues, of course, would potentially impact both Harvey and the club, though it is impossible to weigh that possibility at present.