July 23: Harvey is now officially a free agent after clearing waivers, the Angels announced.
July 21: The Angels have requested unconditional release waivers on right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. The move comes after Harvey was designated for assignment on Friday.
Thus continues a frustrating season for Harvey, who earned an $11MM contract from the Halos, representing an opportunity to re-establish himself as a viable rotation option after injuries derailed his career. Unfortunately, though, the contract has been a disaster for the playoff-hopeful Angels, who have by all measures received negative value from their one-year investment: Harvey’s ERA has ballooned to 7.09, the worst of his career. Other indicators paint a similar picture: with a 6.36 FIP and a .390 xwOBA, the Angels had little reason to continue trotting Harvey out to the mound every fifth day.
Harvey has seen his fastball velocity take yet another step back this season, continuing a trend that began after his peak in 2013. In 2019, Harvey’s fastball has averaged 93.68 mph per Brooks Baseball, a far cry from the 96.96 mark he posted in his All-Star season. While the former number still comes in slightly above average, the declining velocity mirrors an overall trend in Harvey’s performance, with his strikeout rate declining to a career-worst 14.7%. That, coupled with a walk rate that is likewise trending in the wrong direction, has led to an abysmal 1.34 K:BB ratio.
With his Angels tenure now in the rear-view, it will be intriguing to monitor Harvey’s status in free agency. Given the prodigious success that he enjoyed early in his career, it seems likely that several teams will have interest in taking a flyer on the veteran, especially at a much more affordable price; in light of his recent performance, Harvey may only garner a minor-league deal. Perhaps teams would be interested in converting Harvey to a bullpen role in hopes that his stuff would play up, though it’s unclear if Harvey himself would be open to such a change. The Mets experimented with Harvey as a reliever prior to his departure in 2018, though he only made four appearances, making it hard to draw any conclusions about his viability out of the bullpen.