The Harvey effect is real.

Since acquiring Matt Harvey from the Mets on May 8th the Reds have won 6 of 7 games. They just recently had their longest win streak of the season snapped and have looked like a completely different team than they did two weeks ago. Harvey’s pitching expertise has clearly rubbed off on the rest of the Reds starting rotation and the offense has been energized by playing some of their best baseball of the season.

All joking aside, the Matt Harvey trade is an interesting one that could play out in a multitude of ways. There’s a lot of fascinating “cause and effect” scenarios that could impact the Reds on a much deeper level than Harvey simply having a spot in the starting rotation. His presence in the rotation could have an impact on guys like Amir Garrett and Anthony Desclafani and the way their seasons are shaped.

Let’s lay out the three possible scenarios that the Reds and Matt Harvey could face:

Scenario 1: The Reds trade Matt Harvey

I’m lead to believe that the most plausible reason the Reds traded for Matt Harvey was to start him in the rotation, help him revitalize his career, build his value, and then trade him to a team in contention before this year’s trade deadline. The Reds front office figured Matt Harvey could have more trade value than the player they traded away (Devin Mesoraco) and were willing to take a chance on him. In order for the Reds to trade Harvey he’s going to have to continue to pitch relatively well and the Reds will have to find a suitor willing to take on the risk/reward that Harvey brings with him.

Chance: 30%

Scenario 2: The Reds walk away from Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey came over from the Mets signed through 2018 and will be a free agent at the end of this year. If the Reds want to part ways with Harvey, they can simply put him on waivers during the year or let him walk at the end of the year. The biggest question regarding cutting ties with Harvey is when to do it.

If the Reds are unable to find a trade partner for Harvey before the trade deadline then they could put him on waivers and remove him from the 40 man roster. Doing this would open up a starting rotation spot and allow the Reds to use the remainder of the year to evaluate other players such as Anthony Desclafani and/or Amir Garrett in the starting rotation.

If the Reds continue to pitch Harvey in the starting rotation for the remainder of the 2018 season with the intent of letting him walk in free agency at the end of the year, then they are essentially blocking the opportunity for evaluation and development of some of their other potential starting pitchers.

Chance: 50%

Scenario 3: The Reds re-sign Matt Harvey

Like I mentioned before, the entire purpose of the Matt Harvey trade was to revitalize his career and build value. If the Reds are successful in doing this, then I can see a scenario where they would recognize the value that Harvey could potentially have and look at re-signing him to a long term contract.

Over the years, Reds ownership has shown affection towards players who are the “flavor of the month” or “fan favorites”. The Reds have had a recent history of riding the hot hand and signing players based on emotion. If Harvey continues to pitch well, continues to garner fan support, and continues to be a polarizing player, then I can absolutely see a scenario in which the Reds would sign him long term. It would be a very Reds thing to do.

Chance: 20%

Best Case Scenario

The Reds continue to start Matt Harvey in the rotation and he continues to pitch extremely well. Anthony Desclafani continues to get healthy, continues to make rehab starts in Double or Triple A, and continues to pitch well. The Reds eventually find a trade partner for Harvey as Desclafani nears his return to the majors. Matt Harvey is traded for prospects or major league talent, his spot in the starting rotation opens up, and Anthony Desclafani is inserted into the Reds starting rotation.

Worst Case Scenario

Matt Harvey continues to pitch well. The Reds look for a trade partner near the deadline but no team is willing to take on the risk. Matt Harvey continues to pitch for the remainder of the season blocking guys like Anthony Desclafani and Amir Garrett from having any kind of impact on the starting rotation. Near the end of the season with his free agency impending, the Reds re-sign Matt Harvey to an expensive long term contract.

The Reds relationship with Matt Harvey is going to play out in one of the scenarios above. There are a lot of variables that play into each scenario such as the health and performance of Harvey, the health of the other pitchers in the Reds rotation, the trade market, etc. I don’t think the Reds would have made the trade for Harvey unless they had a pretty good strategy in place for what exactly they wanted to get out of him. Let’s hope that Dick Williams can continue to control those magical trade puppet strings. In a couple of years we could be watching one of our better relievers on the mound in a high leverage situation in the NLDS and saying “Remember we got that guy for Matt Harvey?”

20 Responses

  1. Byron

    I don’t especially relish the role of pessimist, but there is at least one more scenario: After a couple of outings with the Reds, Harvey reverts to his recent “Mets form” (in both performance and attitude), becomes a cancer to the team, and is ultimately released. In the meantime, Mesoraco finally gets past his history of physical problems and becomes a valuable asset to the Mets. This isn’t a pretty scenario, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

    • VottoMatic125

      It literally DOES NOT matter if Mesoraco finds his 2014 form. They were NEVER going to resign him. That’s why this trade makes sense in every way. Tucker is the catcher for future, the only way he is not is if they do not move Tyler Stephenson from behind the plate.

      • SultanofSwaff

        Tucker already has 1.5 WAR to his name. That’s all-star level performance! Very shrewd to lock him up for 4 years at a microscopic $16mil.

      • KDJ

        For people who do not live in the world of professional sports, $4M/year does not seem microscopic.

      • Jeff Gangloff

        Exactly right. And this scenario is basically the same one as the Reds not resigning or waiving Harvey.

    • Jeff Reed

      The way this season has gone, until recently, the Reds could use a little attitude.

  2. Bill

    I don’t think there is a scenario where Disco is blocked by Harvey. If Harvey is pitching well and everyone is healthy they probably send down Romano or whoever is pitching poorly at the time. If he is not pitching well they could cut ties with Harvey and the rotation is essentially the same as what we expected when Disco returns; Bailey, Disco, Castillo, Mahle, Romano. The only logic behind this trade is the Reds think they can flip him, which of course means they also believe they can fix whatever is wrong with him. I think the most likely scenario is he walks at the end of the year and the Reds get nothing in return

    • Michael W.

      There is obviously a trade market or value out there for Harvey or the Reds could have just got him for the league minimum once the Mets released him. Why else would they trade away their back up catcher, which is a position of some value to an MLB team, to get him. It surely wasn’t because they thought Tony Cruz deserved a call up.

      It is a big risk for a team (that most people think aren’t going to make any noise this year) to take, but I like it. I don’t think the downside it any risk at all anyway. We turned a back up catcher who played maybe once a week, into a pitcher with tremendous upside who is on a contract year. If that’s not motivation for these guys, I don’t know what is. Well done.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      What if no one in the rotation is “pitching poorly”? You’re going to bring up a guy that hasn’t pitched in two years over a starter that has established themselves this year (Romano…potentially) and is pitching well? You’re going to bring up a guy that hasn’t pitched in two years for a guy you traded for and is pitching lights out (potentially)?

      What if Harvey pitches great and there are no trade suitors, then what do you do with him? Keep him in the rotation or just get rid of him because a guy that hasn’t pitched in 2 years is ready to take over his starting spot in the rotation?

      That’s the problem. Someone is going to have to be moved eventually…or not (find other alternatives for Disco or someone else in the rotation). How this plays out is going to be interesting. We aren’t near that point yet and the above scenario isn’t likely, but I’m not sure of the right answer. That’s why Williams makes the big bucks.

      • Bill

        Romano has not established himself. Disco has a a proven track record so he will be given a chance to prove he doesn’t belong before a rookie will get handed the job. However, there is a lot that can happen to make it irrelevant. First everyone must be healthy, two everyone must be performing at a high level.

      • lwblogger2

        I worry about this not one bit until DeSclafani is ready to come back. At which time, if Romano is pitching well, Harvey is pitching adequately or well and can’t be traded (which would be a surprise especially if the Reds eat money), and I have nobody else that looks like a good demotion candidate, I worry about what to do. That would be a good problem to have.

        I’m not worried about Garrett being blocked at all and that’s because the Reds seem to have put him in “his role”, which means he isn’t going to get a chance to start. That’s crap, because I think he’d probably be the 2nd or 3rd best starting pitcher right now but I have strong, strong doubts that he gets 1 start this year. The trade for Harvey in the first place made Garrett starting unlikely in my mind and that was after it seemed they were grooming him to perhaps be the next closer, from where I was sitting.

  3. VaRedsFan

    When Disco gets back, they might as well go to a 6 man rotation, as long as everybody is still healthy. I would be against sending either Mahle, or Ramano to AAA. And we all know that they aren’t going to hurt Homer’s feelings, and remove him from the rotation. They can always downsize back to a 5-man rotation if the inevitable injury pops up.

    If Harvey is better than average for the rest of the year, and they can’t move him at the deadline, I would still be hesitant to give him more than 2 years/18 million. It’s just a fear factor with injured pitcher thing for me.

    If Harvey is bad or injured…contract expires….nothing really lost

    • SultanofSwaff

      With the new schedule, you basically have one off day every week save for a 10 game stretch once a month. If anything, a 4 man rotation would seem more sensible. Gives you another bullpen arm to mix and match.

  4. Sliotar

    The 50% option title should read, “Harvey and Scott Boras walk away from the Reds.”

    If Harvey pitches well at all, the Reds will be more interested in him than Harvey needs the team. It is possible the Reds were snookered by the Mets, and are paying for Harvey to re-hab his career, only for Scott Boras to land him elsewhere next season.

    The Reds could have (actually should have) previously dealt Mesoraco to the Mets, getting a lottery ticket prospect in return, and waited for Harvey’s release. Harvey had refused a minor-league assignment from the Mets.

    Also, taking on Harvey signifies just how messy this “re-build” still is. All these young arms were supposed to be taking off, the re-build completed by a young studly rotation.

    Instead, Bailey, Harvey and DeSclafani (Bailey 2.0 in terms of injury history) could be 60% of the rotation after the All-Star Break.

    Let the sorting continue……

    • Jeff Gangloff

      I agree, partially. I think if the Reds resurrect Harvey’s career then there may be real value in that for him. I’m not saying he’s going to take a huge discount to be on the Reds, but I think if hes comfortable here and he has success he wouldn’t be opposed to resigning.

      I agree with the last part. Reed, Garrett, Stephenson, and Finnegan not working out in the starting rotation is hurting this club. I’m not completely sold on Romano, either. Disco is a big piece that needs to work out for this rebuild.

      • vegastypo

        Do Boras clients EVER re-sign? I seem to recall Jered Weaver taking under market value to stay with the Angels, against Boras’ advice. Don’t count on a discount, and if Harvey pitches well enough to merit much consideration, the Reds will get out-bid, and Harvey would probably prefer not to pitch half his games in GABP anyway.

  5. Matt WI

    Or, Harvey’s arm blows out again and none of these options get to come to fruition.

  6. james garrett

    I agree 100%.The Reds way of sorting is unlike anybody else’s but it does continue.No patience at all with their young pitchers.Guess they think they should be hall of famers right out of the gate yet they haven’t traded or released the first one of them.Maybe we can sign Bronson and Feldman at the break and really get this sorting in high gear.How sad.

    • greenmtred

      You might make a case that not enough patience has been shown with Reed and Stephenson, though it isn’t a case I’d make. But Mahle, Romano and Castillo remain in the rotation, despite growing pains. Garrett is an interesting outlier: We don’t know why he isn’t starting. He’s had trouble after two innings, but that is an extremely small sample size. There’s speculation that his hip isn’t 100%, and that his recent effectiveness is due to the max effort he can employ out of the pen, but we don’t know. If DeSclafani returns and is healthy and shows signs of regaining effectiveness, the ensuing decision will be interesting. I’d assume that Bailey is on a leash of some length, ditto Harvey, but they’re going to try to field a rotation that is able to be competitive, even this year, because players and fans alike (including us) can’t stomach unrelieved hopelessness. We talk a good game about playing all of the kids and sorting, but we get really pissed when they keep losing. The rotation for the balance of 2018, I predict, will have a couple of vets and the most promising of the young guys, and that might be okay.

  7. Streamer88

    Young rotations emerging simultaneously like smoltz glavine and co are so rare we could count them on 1 hand .. for all time all teams. Rebuilds and sorting always involve mixes of youth and veterans. The reds are not unique in this way.