Aug. 23: Billy Hamilton has also been claimed by an unknown club, tweets Murray. Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that a trade involving Hamilton is “unlikely,” citing the fact that Hamilton is controlled through next season as the reasoning behind that thinking for the Reds.
The 27-year-old Hamilton is having a miserable season at the plate, hitting .236/.302/.317 through 440 plate appearances and is receiving less playing time than he has at any point in his big league career. But he’s still providing plenty of value on the basepaths and elite defense in center field while playing on an affordable $4.6MM salary. He’d be a great piece for a contending club to add to its bench in September and into the postseason, but the Reds have indicated in the past that they’re not keen on selling off pieces for the 2019 season when they aim to be competitive despite a largely unsettled rotation picture.
Aug. 22, 9:50pm: The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney tweets that the Cubs are not the team that claimed Harvey.
6:57pm: Reds right-hander Matt Harvey has been claimed off revocable trade waivers by an unknown club, per Robert Murray and C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s unclear when the claim was placed, but the claiming team would have 48 hours to work out a trade with the Reds. If no deal is reached, the Reds will have the option of either pulling Harvey back off waivers or merely letting him and the remainder of his salary go to the new team.
Harvey, 29, ranked checked in at No. 12 on MLBTR’s latest ranking of the top 20 remaining August trade candidates. He’s made 17 starts in Cincinnati since being flipped there by the Mets in exchange for Devin Mesoraco back in May. He’s had a few hiccups along the way, but Harvey has made significant gains in terms of velocity, swinging-strike rate and his chase rate on pitches out of the zone. Overall, he’s registered a 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 with the Reds.
Given that Harvey is a free agent at season’s end, there’s little reason to believe he’d be claimed by any non-contending club. Revocable waiver priority is league-specific and ordered from worst record to best record, meaning Harvey would have to go unclaimed by every NL team in order to reach an AL club. The Dodgers represent the first realistic contender that would have the ability to claim Harvey in the National League — assuming that the Pirates, Nats and Giants are too far gone to consider adding pieces.
Harvey isn’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer after changing hands midseason (and wouldn’t be a candidate to receive one anyhow), so there’s plenty of incentive for the Reds to get a deal done. Even if the Cincinnati front office hopes to retain Harvey, there’d still be a strong case to flip him for even a modest minor league return and then try to hammer out a new deal when Harvey reaches the open market.