Despite the increasingly worrying health issues and pitching struggles of former Mets ace Matt Harvey, the club isn’t ready to give up on his talent. As GM Sandy Alderson tells Mike Puma of the New York Post, “it’s high unlikely that we’re not going to bring [Harvey] back next year.”
Harvey is still just 28 years old and isn’t far removed from being one of the game’s most dominant starters. If there was concern when he limped to a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts last year, though, it’s all the more pressing now that he has surrendered 6.59 earned per nine through the same number of outings in the current season.
The enigmatic righty has averaged less than five frames per start while managing only 6.6 K/9 against an uncharacteristic 4.5 BB/9. He has seen his velocity waver over the course of the season (with an average that’s down one mph from last year and two mph from the prior season). And his swinging-strike rate has plummeted to 7.5% and yet more arm problems have arisen during the year.
Despite all that, New York evidently sees value in tendering Harvey a contract in his final year of arbitration eligibility. And that’s really not surprising. Harvey will get at least a marginal raise on this year’s $5.125MM arb salary, but the bill will remain well within range of the one-year guarantees that other interesting bounceback type pitchers command in free agency.
While there’s some risk in paying Harvey, notes Puma, there’s probably even greater risk to the front office if it lets him find his form elsewhere. And it isn’t as if the team can’t use the possible innings that Harvey will be expected to provide; talent and uncertainty abound in the rest of the staff, too.
For now, Alderson says, the club will “keep running him out there and see what happens.” It seems that’ll be the approach in 2018 as well — so long as the Mets don’t find a surprise trade and Harvey shows enough promise in camp that he isn’t cut loose to avoid fully guaranteeing his arb payout.