My latest piece for Cincinnati Magazine:

Let’s play a game, shall we? I’m going to show you the stat lines of two MLB pitchers, and you tell me which is the more valuable. Let me remind you: This is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, no wagering.

Starts IP W-L ERA K/9 BB/9
Pitcher A 22 119.2 5-9 6.21 6.54 4.21
Pitcher B 10 53.2 4-3 4.21 6.71 2.01

You may have already guessed, especially if you read the headline above, that Pitcher A is Matt Harvey. You know what? Pitcher B is Matt Harvey as well. It was a trick question! This is a fun game, right?

The top line above shows Harvey’s statistics from 2017 and 2018 as a member of the New York Metropolitans. The bottom line is his performance since coming over to the Reds in the early May trade for catcher Devin Mesoraco.

At the time, the conventional wisdom was that Harvey was a lottery ticket. If he were to show any flashes of his previous brilliance, he might bring more in a trade deadline deal than Mesoraco—a backup catcher in Cincinnati—would have. So far, so good.

Read it all and let me know why the Reds should actually sign Harvey to a long-term contract.

30 Responses

  1. Alex

    Trade him and talk to him over the winter. Its a long shot.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    As much as I like what he’s done, I want more starting pitching options than Matt Harvey. With so much prospect depth to use as trade chips, I’d trade Harvey for the standard relief pitching prospect and then explore additional deadline trades. There’s a handful of SP controlled for 1-2 years with similar peripherals.
    KevinGausman/DylanBundy/KyleGibson/MikeMinor/etc. If you want to go big, you package multiple prospects (outside the top 5) to go after Berrios/Degrom/Urena/Fulmer/etc. Point is, we’re not shopping for a #1, just a rock solid rotation piece.

    Keeping/re-signing Harvey w/o conducting a thorough search is the same logic that landed us Dusty Baker and Bryan Price.

  3. Reaganspad

    I would extend him and Danny Darwin

    Even mentioning Max or Clayton is folly

    The last free agent we signed (the type A ones)?

    Coco Cordero

    I read a comment on this board that we should go after Dallas K.

    We could not sign him to the Reds as a free agent if he was Castelini’s son in law

    • eric3287

      Ironically, if he were Castellini’s son-in-law, he’d be hired as Vice President of Baseball Ops.

  4. Ghettotrout1

    I wouldn’t touch Harvey with a ten foot pole in free agency. I mean unless he signs a super cheap deal. Once pitchers start having surgeries I feel like its all down hill from there. Add in the fact that the dude is almost thirty and had club house issues in the past. No thanks. Trade him and go out and either trade over the winter for pitching or sign some pitchers. Also we need to get Stephenson up here once Harvey is gone so we can see if he can finally string together multiple good outings. You are playing with house money at this point with Harvey cash out while your still ahead.

    • Phil

      The “brain”trust has kept Bailey to replace Harvey. They will get every penny they can out of him. As soon as Harvey is gone Homer is on the bus north. Stephenson can sign another lease in Louisville.

      • lwblogger2

        Stephenson landed on the organizational poo-list and it’s about time they take him off of it. He’s doing everything they want him to do at AAA right now. Time to see what he can do.

  5. Seat101

    Outside of an overpay, I’m inclined not to trade Matt Harvey. From the Reds point of view the better Matt Harvey gets, the more fans will return to GABP or watch/listen to Reds broadcasts. That is a consideration not lightly to be dismissed.

    If just 500 to 700 people show up when Harvey pitches each of his next 10 starts at GABP that’is (conservatively) $250,000.00 straight to the bottom line. FSOH and the Reds’ radio affiliates would be happy for any improvement in ratings this year (and all his starts, not just home games go into this calculation).

    On a practical level, statistical evidence shows that bullpens improve when starters go deeper into games. Keeping Matt Harvey could very well delay the start of bullpen burn-out in the second half. Also, anecdotal evidencce suggests that Matt Harvey is having a positive effect on the pitching staff.

    And it’s just possible, that if Matt Harvey spends almost a whole season in Cincinnati, He’ll be open to listening to an offer from us at the end of the season. I am not implying a “hometown discount”. I’m saying he might see us as a team that is going places and want to be a part of it.

    Great article thanks for posting the link

    • Bill

      Do you really think 500 people are buying tickets just to see Matt Harvey wear a Reds uniform? Even if there was a $250,000 revenue from Harvey that is nothing significant to the overall budget.

      People come to see Votto, Suarez, and Gennett hit. People come to see Hamilton make plays and steal bases. People came to see Chapman throw 105 mph. No one comes to see Harvey pitch 5.2 innings

      • Indy Red Man

        People also don’t come to see teams that are eliminated after 3 weeks of the season. I doubt he would accept it, but a 2 year deal for $22 mil with a team option for 3 would be good for the Reds. Who else are we going to get that’s better? Some other lottery ticket or project from somewhere?

      • Bill

        Which proves my point that keeping Harvey for ticket sales is not a plan. Who can the reds get that is better? The Reds are free to sign Harvey or any other agent in the off season. Lottery tickets and projects from other places work out fine. Harvey was a project, Scooter was a project, Straily was a lottery ticket, Simon was a lottery ticket(who turned into Suarez). All of those guys worked out well. Even Duvall and Schebler were secondary pieces in trades. There is nothing wrong with trading two months of Harvey for a lottery ticket. Those lottery tickets have turned into 2/5 of the current rotation, a starting OF, and All Star appearances for three current players. The only one of those guys that cost anything is Harvey who the Reds basically paid $13 million for

      • Seat101

        Obviously people do come to see the team because the stands are not empty. What we’re really talking about is increasing the number of attendees.

        Please see my post about the four categories of attendees at GABP. This will give more detail about the importance of excitement

      • Seat101

        Sigh. To answer your question specifically, no I do not think the 500 extra Tickets per game is that big of a consideration. I do think an even slight increase in viewers/listeners can move much more to the bottom line than the extra ticket sales.

        The key in my sentence about attendence was the word “return“. The Reds divide attendees into four categories: 1)Often; 2)Never; 3)Occasional; 4)Dropped Away.

        I was speaking to category number 4. It takes excitement to bring these attendees back into the fold. With the exception of Chapman, all those players you mention have not been able to keep these attendees coming to the park. So something new needs to be added. When the draft away return they return more than once. So something new needs to be added. When the drop away return they return more than once

        Again, I know that the increased viewers/listeners Bring much more to the bottom line. And I am talking about Millions.

      • Bill

        Do you thing the people who wont come to see Votto, Suarez, Gennett, or Hamilton are coming to see Harvey? How many people do you think say “that guy who used to pitch for the Mets is pitching tonight. We should take the family to see him before it it too late”? Has Harvey increased attendance in any of his previous starts?

        This isn’t a Hall of Famer. This is a guy who used to be good, became horrible, and now is back to decent. He isn’t throwing no hitters. He isn’t a can’t miss prospect that will pack the stadium like Bruce’s debut did. Maybe Hunter Greene brings a few thousand to the stadium when he debuts in a few years

      • Seat101

        Yes, I do. I think those people who have stopped coming to GABP would return to see a game we had a very good chance of winning.

        Again that is a small bonus compared to the increased viewers/listeners that will happen when Matt Harvey starts.

        With the other benefits Matt Harvey brings to the team like less stress on the bullpen, setting a higher bar for the other starters, and the idea that he is mentoring other pitchers I would ask for a significant overpay her before I traded him.

    • lwblogger2

      Ok, I can see what you’re saying with the exception of the money in ticket sales for his starts. If the Reds trade him, they basically save about $2-million. They sent money to the Mets to offset the difference in salary between Harvey and Mes but they still pay Harvey’s salary. If he is traded then the acquiring team takes on that money, assuming no cash changes hands in the deal.

  6. Scott C

    I believe that the point of the Harvey trade was to hope there was improvement and then cash in. To this point (and this really is the exact point in time) Harvey has done exactly that. I really like Harvey, I am a Tar Heel and have followed him since he was a collegian and am happy to have a Tar Heel to root for in the majors, but if the Reds do not trade Harvey before the deadline then they missed their point. I certainly hope that Matt continues on with a successful injury free career but the Reds cannot take that chance with a pitcher who is about to turn thirty and at the price it will cost.

    • greenmtred

      Trading seems to have been the plan and may still be, but the Reds are playing much better than they were prior to the trade, and that could change the calculation. They now look closer to contending than was generally assumed, with pitching being the weakest aspect of the team. Trading him and then going after him in free-agency assumes that the team that gets him doesn’t sign him to a multi-year deal. Also, human nature being what it is, he might find the idea of being a Red going forward a bit more beguiling when he’s here than he would when he’s playing for someone else. Or maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder. And, of course, he’s taking innings from somebody–Reed, Stephenson, Garret, Lorenzen, though Innings limits and failure to thrive (Romano?) might open up opportunities for the young guys. I’d lean towards keeping him because he’s showing competence and that’s making the Reds more fun to watch and easier to get excited about, proven by me writing this when I should be stacking wood.

  7. Jeff Reed

    The Reds should stick to the rebuild script and trade Harvey for what they can get. Don’t get detoured to the veteran mode that has happened so often in the past years.

    • Colorado Red

      Depending on how the FA market goes, you might make an offer latter.
      1 year at 10.
      1 team option at 14, can become a player option, based on performance

  8. jim ward

    hey chad im also a big reds fan I used to listen to reds games on the radio when I lived in northern va.outside d.c going all the way back to the 70’s and the big red machine days..i live here now in eastern ky . I will be 60 this yr so I been following 4 a long time . things take time they will be back go reds

  9. Westfester

    I agree we should trade him before the deadline. There is no way he will accept a deal that would be less than 3 years, considering he is 30 and this will likely be his last chance to get paid.

  10. Shchi Cossack

    The story with Harvey is not just his improvement during the last 3 (now 4) games, but his regular improvement since joining the Reds. His ERA before joining the Reds was a robust 7.00 and climbing. He’s made marginal progress thru the 1st 7 games with the Reds, but then something clicked. His velocity returned. His control returned. He began pitching effective, if not dominant performances. His seasonal ERA dropped from 5.92 -> 5.66 -> 5.28 -> 4.91 -> 4.80. Thru the last 4 games, Harvey has pitched to a 1.88 ERA w/ 1.13 BB/9, 1.04 WHIP &, 6.00 SO/BB

    Harvey will have 2 more starts before the break and 2 more starts after the break and before the trade deadline. Harvey is a 2+ month rental, which limits his value, but recent performance matters, especially if that recent performance comes with an identifiable change and consistency since that change. With effective or dominant starts between now and any trade consummation, a receiving team will be receiving a top of the rotation starter for both getting to the playoffs and competing in the playoffs. Long-term health and any future contract demands will be no consideration. Prior issues related to clubhouse disruption when he was struggling with injuries with be no consideration. This is just a 2+ month acquisition to fill a need and make a playoff run with no monetary cost considerations. A team will ante up for a top of the rotation starter to make a playoff run. Of course, if Harvey puts up a clunker or two before the trade is consummated, then all bets are off and the Reds will be lucky to get any serious calls regarding Harvey.

    Harvey long-term health issues and clubhouse issues will factor into his next contract. I have no issue if the Reds monitor the FA market and sign Harvey for a balloon contract during the off season to rebuild his long term value, but I have no interest in any long term contract for Harvey.

    • Jack

      Spot on sir! At his age and injuries we cant afford another Homer Bailey.

  11. roger garrett

    Harvey has done what we hoped he would do so its time to get what we can for him and move on.I expect teams will give us more then any of us think.We can’t afford him nor should even try.I like 10 to 12 mil a year but he will want and probably get much much more from a team with deeper pockets.Average major league starters are bringing a boat load of cash to go 5 or 6 innings in today’s market.

  12. Ben

    You nailed it. Don’t sign Harvey, definitely trade him before the deadline, and don’t be “sellers” with everyone else, all of whom minus Homer we can bring back next year on reasonable terms.

  13. lwblogger2

    Two things:
    1) Yes, the return for Harvey, the way he’s pitching right now, should be a bit higher than the return for Mes would have been, assuming they could have moved Mes at the deadline at all.
    2) The Reds save some money if they move Harvey. The Reds sent the difference in salary between Mes and Harvey to the Mets but this doesn’t mean that they are still paying Mes and the Mets are still paying Harvey. What it means is that the Reds still pay Harvey his salary. If the Reds trade him at the deadline, they stand to save about $2-million or so.