While the Mets have made clear they don’t have any ongoing extension talks with their starters, and there isn’t a ton of pressure given their extended existing control, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests that it may be worth at least exploring some chatter with Matt Harvey. Both the prized righty and his agent, Scott Boras, have suggested they’d be willing to engage in dialogue. Harvey, 26, is earning $4.33MM in his first of three seasons of arbitration eligibility. Sherman suggests that buying the remaining two arb years at about $29MM and adding three free agent seasons at $30MM a pop might be a fair valuation. While that seems to be a pretty fair suggestion for an outstanding 3+ starter, even in spite of his recent Tommy John surgery, from my perspective it’s somewhat difficult to imagine Harvey and Boras jumping at $119MM over five years. Such a deal would take Harvey though his age-32 season, meaning he’d hit the market at about the same stage as James Shields did last winter. It’s also far from clear that New York would be interested in such a scenario, of course, and Sherman makes very clear that any such concept is something of a longshot.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who is currently on track to hit the market with Harvey and a host of other premium players, is working on decreasing his reliance on his big fastball, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. The hope is that Fernandez will not only be able to improve — a scary proposition for opponents — but will reduce the load on his recently-repaired elbow. “We want to see him continue to pitch and continue to develop his weapons, where he’s not having to have the mentality that I’ve got to strike everybody out,” explained new manager Don Mattingly. “There’s nothing wrong with having guy hit a ground ball early in the count. … We think pitching that way keeps him healthy for a long time. It’s good for him. It’s good for us. It’s good for everybody.”
- Interestingly, the recent Tommy John research of MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum showed that the volume of what he classifies as “hard pitches” can have significant predictive power of future UCL replacements. Fernandez is the biggest name to land among the ten pitchers with the highest statistical TJ risk this year, per Woodrum’s research, which certainly suggests that thoughtful handling is warranted.
- Presumed Phillies closer David Hernandez is dealing with some “issues” with his right elbow, manager Pete Mackanin told reporters including Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The skipper himself didn’t seem entirely sure of what difficulties Hernandez was having. Meanwhile, the righty says he isn’t injured and is simply trying not to overburden himself having missed a lot of camp time in recent springs, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweets.
- In Braves camp, Cuban veteran Hector Olivera is still working to refine his hitting mechanics, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, with the team seeing signs of improvement. The first impressions of youngster Ozzie Albies have been universally positive, O’Brien adds, who may be pushing up his big league timeline (although not all the way to Opening Day this year) with his performance. Meanwhile, Atlanta may seek to utilize Jace Peterson in more of a utility role this season, O’Brien adds.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post has an interesting feature on Nationals lefty Felipe Rivero, who came over as one of two minor leaguers to accompany Jose Lobaton in the deal that sent Nate Karns to the Rays. The fireballing southpaw has focused on strengthening his arm, and hopes that touching 100 mph last year will become a more common occurrence. While he says he “was thinking too much before” in a starter’s role, Rivero now feels settled in as a pen man. “Last season,” he said, “I’d imagine that, even if I was facing Barry Bonds, I’d get him out. Or when I threw against the league’s best batters, I didn’t think about the Mets or whoever. It’s me versus you. If I strike you out, I strike you out. If you make contact, you make contact. That’s it.” Wagner notes that Rivero could factor into the team’s future closer considerations, and the 24-year-old says he’d welcome such an opportunity.