Cleat Geeks

I Understand Why The Reds Traded For Harvey, But Not For The Terms

About an hour before the game on Tuesday the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets made a trade swapping two once heralded stars and players seen as building blocks for each team. The Reds received starting pitcher Matt Harvey and they gave the Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco.

The trade looks good on the surface, for both teams. The Reds get a pitcher who is making about $5.6 Million dollars with lots of current problems. He has a 7.00 ERA this season with more earned runs (21) than strike outs (20), but was once a prominent pitcher in the Met’s organization. So, for the money and the fact that he is in a contract year, which he knows if he does not turn his pitching around soon all he will get next year is an invite to spring training instead of a healthy contract, the last place Red’s were willing to take a chance on him. Mesoraco was basically in the same boat, he is in a contract year, like Harvey he has been often injured and he knows if he does not improve on his current .220 batting average and his 1 home run in 20 games, all he will get next year is an invite as well. Mesoraco’s contract for the 2018 season will pay him $13.1 million.

Image result for matt harvey

Photo by; CBS News

There were people and organizations who were not sure if the Mets would be able to trade Harvey for anything of substance. Considering his results on the field, his known antics off the field and all those were heightened when he refused to accept an assignment to the minors, which lead to the trade with the Reds. Harvey has undergone both Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in the past four years, and his production has unsurprisingly plummeted as a result. Harvey, 29, pitched to a pristine 2.53 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in 427 big league innings from 2012-15. Tommy John surgery in 2014 slowed his career, but he was able to return to prominence with a terrific 2015 season and a heroic postseason performance that was largely befitting of his “Dark Knight” moniker. The 2016 season, however, was a struggle for Harvey, as he pitched just 92 2/3 innings of 4.86 ERA ball before ultimately succumbing to the aforementioned TOS surgery. The track record of pitchers returning from TOS surgery is not good, to say the least, and Harvey is one of the more prominent data points exemplifying that fact. Since returning from that surgery in 2016, he’s pitched to a 6.77 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 2.0 HR/9 in 119 2/3 innings. Harvey’s average fastball velocity is a career-low 92.6 mph so far in 2018, and he’s also posted career-worsts in chase rate (21.1 percent) and opponents’ hard-contact rate (43 percent) while notching the second-lowest swinging-strike rate of his career (8.2 percent).

Image result for devin mesoraco 2018

Photo by; Zimbio

The Mets are doing well this year, but they lost their starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud has already undergone Tommy John surgery and is out for the season, while Kevin Plawecki remains shelved with a hairline fracture in his hand that he suffered upon being hit by a pitch late last month. New York has been relying on journeyman Jose Lobaton and rookie Tomas Nido to handle catching duties in the absence of d’Arnaud and Plawecki, but neither backstop has provided even a shred of offensive value. Lobaton is hitting .163/.265/.256, while Nido has slashed just .147/.197/.176. So not only did the Mets get a player of substance, but they were able to address their biggestneed by far on their club with this trade.

So, let’s look at this trade to see who looks like they won the trade or if it is even.

Better current player; EVEN

Better career player; EVEN

Player who should help the team the most this season; METS

Team that benefits the most in total team payroll; REDS

Wait…..what there is something we have yet to talk about. The Reds sent cash considerations to the Mets along with Mesoraco. When I saw that part of the trade I figured that the Reds sent some cash to decrease the disparity of $13 to $6 maybe a couple million to make the Reds save $5 or so million. But no, the Reds sent enough money to completely offset the difference in money! So the only real advantage the Reds received in this trade they nullified themselves. This is now an awful trade for the Reds. The only way they win this trade is if they save some payroll, and they did not, so they loose this trade.

Let’s look at best case scenario for the Reds. Let’s say Harvey just needs a change of scenery and he turns it around rather quickly. We will say Harvey wins 15 games the rest of the season. Even so, the Reds don’t make the play-offs, Harvey tests the free agent market and more than likely signs a contract the Reds can’t afford.

I understand Reds starters have posted an MLB-worst 5.68 ERA in 2018, and the team is unsurprisingly buried in the NL Central with a 10-27 record due in no small part to the inadequacies of its rotation. Young righties Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano have turned in ERAs in the mid-4.00s, but no other Reds starter has an ERA south of Homer Bailey’s 5.61 mark. Mahle, Romano, Bailey, Luis Castillo and Brandon Finnegan have been the primary starters for Cincinnati to date. But any trade the Reds make should be for players to build around, not a player with both on the field and off the field problems with an expiring contract.

Image result for jim riggleman reds

Photo by; The Dayton Daily News

As far as how Harvey will fit into the Reds pitching staff is still unclear. “He’s anxious to help us and re-establish his career. I think it’s a good fit,” Reds Interim manager Jim Riggleman said on Wednesday morning. Harvey, 29, has been throwing and worked in a bullpen session on Tuesday. His last outing was a two-inning, five-run relief appearance for the Mets on Thursday vs. the Braves, and he was designated for assignment the following day after refusing to go to the Minors. Harvey’s last start for New York was on April 19 (six runs over six innings) before his demotion to the bullpen.

“He’s tried to extend himself a little bit, so no matter where he signed, he’d be able to pitch some length,” Riggleman said. “He’s ready to do whatever we need him to do. We’ll determine that in the next day or two.

“I would think he would, in some capacity, pitch against the Dodgers. Whether that’s relieving or starting or whatever, I don’t know yet.”

If I had to guess, I would say we will see Harvey start on Friday and take the place of Brandon Finnegan who is 0-3 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts with a demotion similar to what the Mets did with Harvey after his struggles.

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