The Nationals have claimed right-hander Hunter Harvey off waivers from the Giants, per a club announcement. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, third baseman Carter Kieboom has been placed on the 60-day injured list with what the team has termed a right UCL sprain/flexor mass strain.
Harvey is a former first-round pick and top prospect who once looked as if he’d be an important part of the Orioles’ long-term plans. His professional career has been thrown off track by injuries, though, as he landed on the minor league injured list in every season between 2014-18. That included a July 2016 Tommy John procedure that kept him to 31 1/3 cumulative innings between 2016-17.
Baltimore eventually moved Harvey to the bullpen in an attempt to keep him healthy, although that hasn’t yet manifested in better results in that regard. He missed the majority of last season recovering from oblique and lat strains. Between the injuries, Harvey has only managed to log 23 2/3 innings at the big league level.
Despite the questionable health record, the North Carolina native has continued to catch teams’ attention. San Francisco nabbed him off waivers from the Orioles in November, but they’ll lose him before he ever logs an inning in their uniform. It’s easy to see why Harvey hasn’t yet passed through the wire unclaimed, as he owns a 3.42 ERA while averaging north of 97 MPH on his heater in his limited big league time. If he can stay healthy — which is clearly no small caveat — it’s still easy to envision Harvey as a productive arm in the middle or late innings. He also has a minor league option year remaining, so the Nats can shuttle him between Washington and Triple-A Rochester for the rest of the year if they carry him on the 40-man roster.
Kieboom is a former first-rounder and top prospect himself. He has struggled to a .197/.304/.285 line over his first 414 MLB plate appearances, but the 24-year-old still seemed to have a path to regular playing time on a retooling Nationals club this year. Unfortunately, he recently sustained a forearm/elbow injury when throwing, and MLB.com’s Joe Trezza tweets that he’ll need to rest for at least six weeks before he can resume baseball activities.
It’s a tough setback for both Kieboom and the Nationals, as 2022 is shaping up as something of a make-or-break year for the young infielder. The Nats don’t look like a strong playoff contender this season, but they’re not about to embark on a rebuild with Juan Soto only under club control for three more seasons. Evaluating whether Kieboom could be part of the long-term core seemed like a key objective for the Washington front office, but that’ll be on hold for at least a couple months. With Kieboom out, Luis Garcia, veteran utilityman Ehire Adrianza and non-roster invitee Maikel Franco all seem to have an easier path to playing time at the hot corner early in the year.