The #Reds have acquired RHP Matt Harvey from the Mets in exchange for C Devin Mesoraco and cash. Harvey will join the team later this week in Los Angeles. The Reds have also selected the contract of C Tony Cruz from the Triple-A @LouisvilleBats. pic.twitter.com/n4mCjfbWXK
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 8, 2018
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.
So who is the real Dark Knight? pic.twitter.com/HEcCP4l1UM
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 8, 2018
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.