This evening, the Cincinnati Reds acquired pitcher Matt Harvey from the Mets in exchange for former All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco. This is an…ummm…interesting trade from the Cincinnati perspective:

Harvey, 29, was designated for assignment on Saturday after refusing a Minor League assignment, capping off a disappointing end to a once-promising career with the Mets. He will join the Reds later this week in Los Angeles, the club announced.

The Mets had high hopes for Harvey when they drafted him seventh overall in 2010, and he quickly ascended to the Majors by 2012. Harvey was an All-Star in 2013 and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting. After losing a season to Tommy John surgery, Harvey posted his third consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA and helped the Mets to a World Series appearance.

But Harvey has not been the same since. He held a 4.86 ERA over 92 2/3 innings in 2016, and a 6.70 ERA over 92 2/3 innings in 2017 after facing various maladies, including thoracic outlet syndrome. He has a 7.00 ERA over 27 innings this season.

Harvey will represent a reclamation project for the rebuilding Reds, whose young rotation has had its fair share of struggles. Their rotation (5.58 ERA) ranks second to last in baseball, and their pitching staff as a whole (5.26 ERA) is last. Harvey is due $5.6 million this season and is set to hit free agency this winter.

Mesoraco, of course, had one of the best seasons ever for a Reds catcher back in 2014, when he was a National League All-Star in the midst of hitting .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs. Since that time, however, injuries have limited Mesoraco to just 316 plate appearances, in which he hit just .195/.291/.318. He was set to be a free agent at the end of the season, too.

On one hand, it makes little sense to give Harvey starts that should be going to young pitchers on a team in the midst of a rebuild. As Wick Terrell says over at Red Reporter:

Adding Harvey would’ve made some sense to help augment the worst pitching staff in baseball if he’d a) shown some semblance of being effective or b) was controlled long enough to actually contribute at a later date to a team that’s still firmly in rebuild mode. Instead, the Reds are throwing a hobbled veteran into innings that otherwise would be going to young starters looking to gain experience, and that’s a decision that makes little to no sense in my mind.

On the other hand, I have difficulty getting too worked up about this trade. I probably wouldn’t have made the trade, and I definitely wouldn’t guarantee Harvey a spot in the rotation. But whatever. There is definitely upside: if Harvey can show any flashes of his previous brilliance — and yes, that’s a big if — he’ll be more valuable at the trade deadline than Mesoraco was likely to have been. It does not seem unreasonable for the Reds to have believed that, and used it as a rationale for making the trade.

So that’s the upside. The downside? Harvey takes starts away from young pitchers that need the experience in this rebuild. I agree: that’s a terrible idea. I’d put Harvey in the bullpen, at least initially. But if he starts, who is he taking starts from?

Brandon Finnegan? Meh. Finnegan needs to be starting in Louisville anyway.

Cody Reed? Robert Stephenson? Those guys can’t throw strikes in Triple-A.

Amir Garrett? yes, Yes, YES. If I were running the show, I’d have Garrett in the rotation today. But it’s becoming more and more likely that Garrett will never again start another game in his lifetime. He likes being a reliever, he’s good at it, and I see no evidence that the Reds intend to transition him back into the rotation.

So if the Reds have no intention of using Garrett in the rotation*, the only person that Harvey might be blocking is Finnegan. And I just can’t get too worked up over the possibility that we don’t get to see nine more starts from Finnegan between now and the trade deadline.

*Admittedly, my quick and dirty initial evaluation of this trade is colored by my feelings of how the current front office has managed this roster.

One final note about Devin Mesoraco: I’m going to miss that guy. He was always kind to Redleg Nation, and he always gave everything he had to this organization. I’m sad about how injuries have robbed him of the career he should’ve had, and he’ll continue to be a RN favorite no matter where he lands down the road. (And personally, I’ve always pulled for the because he was committed to play for my beloved University of Virginia Cavaliers before agreeing to sign with the Reds.)

Below you’ll find the last time Devin appeared on our podcast. He was actually going to talk with us again this spring, and we couldn’t get it worked out. Maybe this off-season we can catch up with him again. Good luck, Devin.

36 Responses

  1. james garrett

    I guess it gave somebody something to do.Makes no sense unless he becomes great in a couple months and you trade him for a prospect but that is just nonsense to say it or even think it,

  2. Carl Sayre

    Here we go again paying another team to play for them! We traded our broken toy for their broken toy when we could have gotten Harvey for next to nothing in a few days!!!! The difference beween the Reds and the Boy Scouts is the Boy Scouts have adult leaders!!!!!

    • earmbrister

      We did get Harvey for next to nothing.

    • GO REDS!

      No because he is still a pretty good pitcher! Reds don’t want good pitchers.

  3. d_rad_g (@D_Rad_G)

    Was always a big fan of Mes; I hope he finds success in NY. But Harvey?! Just another example of another team’s trash being the Reds’ treasure.

  4. Ernest

    Does not make a lot of sense, getting a broken pitcher that will be a free agent at the end of the season?

    If he pitches well maybe flip him at the deadline. He will certainly not sign with the Reds as a free agent if he is productive.

    Good for Mesoroco, gets out of Cincinnati

  5. Ghettotrout1

    Klugo is correct with his analysis especially the we are sending them money WTF hahahaa this front office is confuses

    • VottoMatic125

      The Reds are paying Mesoraco’s salary and the Mets are paying Harvey’s. The Reds were on the hook for Mesoraco regardless. They acquired Harvey for nothing. Devin is DONE. If Harvey can redeem himself and in turn be traded to one of the three other teams that were interesting, this is an absolute steal. ZERO RISK!

  6. David

    Todd Frazier and Devin were pretty good friends. Getting Harvey out of the organization might really help the Mets Clubhouse, and send a message about Harvey and his off field acting up.
    But I don’t see how this helps the Reds. Maybe they ask Harvey to be a closer? This is all just too dumb for me. He’s a broken pitcher, who has a drinking problem. This is not what winning looks like.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  7. Andrew Lucyszyn

    I don’t hate it. There was no possible return for the unfortunate, oft-injured Mes. Maybe he re-signs for a million next year in the best case as the backup? He wasn’t going to get enough playing time to get flipped at the deadline for much either. He was a sunk cost getting paid either way.

    Harvey is just a reclamation project. He at least was a star at relatively sorta kinda recently. If he shows literally anything over the next couple months, the Reds hopefully flip him. If he doesn’t, he’s gone too. The price was then a few innings of Reed or Bob Steve, who aren’t exactly lighting it up anywhere. At 9-28 or whatever they are now, it’s hard to think that will make or break anything. I don’t think Gallardo is a great comp, except for how soon it could all come and go.

    Neither is part of the Next Good Reds Team. But in all probability, nobody older than a 12U team would qualify at this rate.

    At the very least, it’s interesting!

  8. Mason Red

    Well it’s official. This franchise has completely gone off the rails.

  9. Sliotar

    Now might be a good time to mention that Harvey’s agent is ……Scott Boras.

    The Reds are paying roughly $6 million, (instead of trading Mes earlier to Mets or to anyone else for a low-level lottery ticket prospect), to try and do something with Harvey the rest of the season.

    Flipping him in just a few weeks would seem to be a real stretch, especially with the big HR park factor difference between Citi Field and GABP.

    Not that I think it will happen, but Boras working Dick WIlliams over via the media to re-sign Harvey after the season would make for entertaining reading…..

    “The really successful organizations, and I have worked with a few in my time, don’t invest $6 million to see what a guy has, let him get right, and then not offer him a market-value free agency deal….like 3 years, $60 million. Just sayin’.”

    • Tom Mitsoff

      My understanding is that the teams exchanged cash so that the difference between the contracts would even out. So basically what you have is two players traded for each other who had no chance of being with their teams beyond this season and who fill specific needs for the new team. The Mets needed a catcher, and the Reds need to try to find someone who can pitch effectively in a starting role. Both players move from a marginal role to a potentially significant role on the new team. If Harvey pitches well enough to take starts from Finnegan, fine. Pitchers on this team have to earn their positions by pitching well, not by being below a certain age. We’re too far along in the “process” to continue to watch guys who can’t throw strikes, which is why Stephenson will stay in Louisville unless he magically gains control.

      If Harvey magically turns it around and can bring a big haul at the trade deadline, that’s fine as well. He’s not going to be here in 2019 if he starts pitching like his former self.

  10. Streamer88

    I’m almost positive I called this exact trade like 2 weeks ago. Omg can the moderators track down my prediction of this?!

    Never mind, y’all have a great site to moderate please don’t waste your time.

    You’ll just have to trust that I nailed this one. Also, I love the trade. Harvey needed out of NY. Not quite for Josh Hamilton reasons… but I think a nice medium midwestern town reboot could be the perfect setting for a major restart for Mr. Harvey. Better than Finnegan.

  11. Brian

    Devin M.,Jay B.,Todd F.,if Votto gets traded to the Mets then i’m jumping on the Mets bandwagon.

  12. Scott Gennett

    NY Mets changed name to NY Ex-Reds

  13. Scott Gennett

    Only winner here is Mesoraco himself, he’ll have the chance to play everyday (no competence) to regain form and look for another long term contract next winter.

  14. Sandman

    This is going to go oh so badly! I know some of you will probably be ok with Harvey if he continues to stink it up bcuz our record is what it is.

    You know what? I don’t have the energy right now to continue my thought(s) on this. Whatever!

    • Sliotar

      Sandman, I think most people are with you.

      Look at it this way….would the Atlanta Braves do this deal, or any type of deal, to bring in Matt Harvey?

      Highly unlikely.

      They committed to Teheran and Folty and later, Newcomb, as young SPs, a future core rotation and now they are blossoming. And, they have more coming in the pipeline.

      The Reds? Still bottom fishing, throwing darts on boards, seeing what sticks.
      “Trying something.”

  15. jctrum

    I feel like this organization is always looking to catch lightning in a bottle a la Straily, Simon, etc. If they do, and somehow squeeze a decent prospect out of it, to give up a player they weren’t probably going to resign, in a rotation with injury risks already? What’s to lose? They already aren’t giving starts to the people who need it. Count me in the meh category.

  16. Davy13

    I have to try to make sense out of this deal, because otherwise I’ll go insane with this FO. Surely:
    – Harvey was picked up to give him a fresh start, turn his fortunes, and then trade him later for a prospect
    – Iglesias will be traded while he has value for a good prospect or two
    – Garrett is being groomed to be the team’s next closer, since there isn’t any hint that he’ll move into the starting rotation
    – Winker will finally be starting everyday
    – (feel free to fill in the blank)

    Surely…there is a plan, right!?

    • eric3287

      Whenever you find yourself saying “Surly there must be a plan,” in regards to a Reds move, take solace in the fact that they do not have a plan.

      The more I think about this trade the more frustrating it becomes. The Mets get to pay $5 million for a catcher they want and get to get rid of a pitcher they don’t want. Meanwhile, the Reds get to pay $13 million for a pitcher they don’t need and lose a backup catcher they do need. If the Reds sent the Mets Devin and paid his contract and got a prospect in A or A+ that would at least make sense. The Mets NEED a catcher. The Reds just got absolutely pantsed in this deal, and I’m not even expecting Mesoraco to be 2014 level Mesoraco.

  17. nicolecushing

    Was Jason Marquis unavailable?

  18. big5ed

    The financial terms were that each team continued to pay their old guy’s salary. In other words, the Reds pay the same amount, but have Harvey instead of Mesoraco. Both are free agents at the end of the year.

    That means one thing for the Reds. They believe they have a chance to rehab Harvey and then flip him to a contender at the trade deadline. If it doesn’t work, the Reds are not out anything. If they can get even a decent A-ball arm for Harvey, then that is more than they could have gotten from Mesoraco.

    Not sure why anybody would get their knickers bunched over this. Harvey has tons of incentive to succeed here over the next 11 weeks. If he is a clubhouse distraction, then the Reds can DFA him.

    • VottoMatic125

      THANK YOU!! This is exactly what this is nothing more.

  19. eric3287

    Stuart Turner is currently on the DL in the minor leagues. Maybe he gets called up when healthy, but it’s the Reds so who knows. Meanwhile, the Reds rotation is as bad or worse as it was and the backup C is much worse than before. So there’s that.

  20. Westfester

    Funny that Chad posted the “Dark Knight” comparisons, because IT’S THE SAME GUY. WE just traded for Homer Bailey 2.0. A pitcher that was dominate…4 years ago!

  21. eric3287

    What are the odds that Matt Harvey actually puts it together, and then what are the odds the Reds actually trade him? Seriously, a Cincinnati Reds team that is, say 33-55 at the All-Star break (still awful, but showing some signs of life) and Matt Harvey is 8-1, 10K/9, 2.50 ERA in 11 starts. In the long hsitory of this Reds rebuild, what is more likely? The Reds flip him for a prospect in A or A+? Or the Reds overplay their hand, ask for a top 3 prospect, get nothing, watch Harvey’s ERA balloon to 5.00 over the last two months and then try to resign him because he had a good 10 game stretch?

  22. Jeff Reed

    Change for changes sake. But a positive is to keep Finnegan, Stevenson and Reed at Louisville for the rest of the season to ascertain if they have what it takes to be starting pitchers, and then go from there in 2019.

  23. Matt Esberger

    Winner in this is Mesoraco to go from back-up catcher on the worst team in baseball to being a regular 8 with d’ Arnaud being out the season on a contending team IF and a big IF he can stay healthy and also be able drive up his value this offseason. Worst case scenario for Mets is replacing a guy always on DL (d’ Arnaud) with a guy always on DL (Mesoraco) but they at least get rid themselves a headache in the clubhouse. I have no beef with move because right now the Reds have zero to lose and if Harvey sucks you lose nothing because it is his walk year and even if he turns it around he won’t be able to command top dollar on the open market and might be able to re-sign on 1 year deal with incentives in off season.

  24. Jeff Reed

    I always liked Mesoraco and he had things going until injuries hit. I’m glad he has an opportunity with the Mets, and wish him well except not today.

  25. TD

    Look at the bright side…..Give me a minute. Ah Yes! We get a bright young catching prospect into our line up!….Oh Wait!….Errrrr…..I’ll have to get back to you.