1:14pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Reds owner Bob Castellini “loves” Harvey, which could’ve played a role in the decision to retain him. Heyman agrees, tweeting that Castellini ultimately did not want to trade the right-hander, which could indicate that the Reds will push to re-sign him this winter.
12:20pm: Even more definitively, Reds GM Nick Krall tells C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic that Harvey will remain with the team (Twitter link).
12:15pm: Bob Nightengale Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Harvey will not be traded to the Brewers before the deadline expires (Twitter link). He’ll start today’s game in a Reds uniform and, presumably, remain with the Reds through season’s end.
7:23am: The Brewers are the team that placed the winning claim on Reds right-hander Matt Harvey on Wednesday, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). They’ve yet to agree to a trade with the Reds, it seems, though there’s still time to do so before waivers on Harvey expire this afternoon at 1:30pm ET. Harvey recently landed 12th on MLBTR’s latest ranking of the Top 20 August trade candidates in baseball.
Much has been mad about the Brewers perceived need for rotation help, though in truth, all five members of their current rotation have generally outperformed Harvey even since his trade to the Reds. Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra, Freddy Peralta and Wade Miley all have ERAs of 4.02 or better, and of that bunch, only Anderson lags behind Harvey’s 4.50 FIP.
[Related: Milwaukee Brewers depth chart]
Having said that, there’s certainly plenty of reason to maintain interest in Harvey all the same; Miley has been injured for much of the season and has totaled just 45 1/3 innings after a pair of dismal seasons in the American League in 2016-17. Peralta, meanwhile, is a rookie who has already thrown a combined 130 1/3 innings between the Majors and minors after totaling 120 frames in 2017. Anderson is among the game’s most homer-prone starters. Guerra has had a solid season but pitched at sub-replacement level in 2017. Adding Harvey to the staff, especially considering the improvements he’s made since being traded from New York to Cincinnati, has plenty of merit even if it can be argued that it shouldn’t be an imperative.
Harvey has unquestionably improved since changing uniforms a first time this season, working to a solid 4.28 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.39 HR/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 90 1/3 innings. Much of the damage against him came in one eight-run meltdown against the Pirates back on July 22, but the majority of Harvey’s starts with the Reds have at the very least been competitive efforts outside of that showing. He’s still averaging just 5 1/3 innings per start, but Harvey’s velocity has steadily increased with Cincinnati. He’s also seen a modest improvement in his swinging-strike rate (currently 8.9 percent) and seen substantial jump in his chase rate on out-of-zone pitches while also throwing first-pitch strikes at a considerably higher clip (up to 63.3 percent).
There’s little denying that Harvey would at the very least deepen the current pitching staff by adding another serviceable arm to the mix, and that depth is especially important with rosters set to expand in September. Even incremental upgrades for the Brewers should be viewed as important, given that they’re currently 3.5 games back of the National League Central-leading Cubs and a half-game behind the Cardinals in the division as well. Milwaukee is more favorably positioned in the Wild Card hunt — currently tied with Colorado for the second spot and a half-game back of the Cardinals, who hold the top spot.
For the Reds, there’s been no indication that they’d simply let Harvey go via waivers. His $5.6MM salary has about $1.13MM remaining to be paid out, so the financial implications aren’t exactly overwhelming. But if the Brewers are willing to offer even a modest prospect in return, the Reds should be happy to add to their continually improving farm system in exchange for a pitcher who is otherwise set to hit free agency after the season.