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.
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.
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.
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?”
Jeff is Cincinnati born, Ohio University educated. Reds baseball has been a central theme of his family ever since his mom and dad helped him skip school to attend Opening Day. Jeff has been accused of having a “man crush” on Joey Votto and longs for the day that he gets to witness the Reds finally win a playoff series. You can follow him on Twitter @Gaaangs