I’m not criticizing the Reds, at least not the initial move. It’s possible to disagree with something the Reds do and still believe they made a reasonable decision given the circumstances.

But I never liked the Matt Harvey trade.

When Harvey was traded to the Reds on May 8, he became part of a team with an 8-27 record. Reds starters had posted some of the worst numbers in baseball to that point (it has improved only slightly since), and it looked like the team was much further away from contending than we’d hoped.

Harvey wasn’t billed as the savior; the Reds didn’t consider him as a long-term possibility. Nor should they have with his impending free agency and Scott Boras lurking in the shadows. The Reds clearly traded for Harvey in order to flip him for more young talent.

Harvey was a reclamation project in desperate shape, both on the mound and off it. He would need to show signs of life that had been missing for 2+ seasons as his velocity had dropped, ERA had skyrocketed, and his antics had created a personal PR mess.

The Reds felt they could help Harvey regain some of his magic with mechanical tweaks. If it worked, they would sell him off to a contender looking to upgrade the 5th spot in their rotation down the stretch. It made sense.

But, I wasn’t thrilled about the move. As a struggling organization with a number of young pitchers, the Reds could have used those starts to better evaluate Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, or Amir Garrett. They could have stretched out Michael Lorenzen in AAA when he got healthy and thrown him out there for a couple months to sink or swim.

I didn’t see how a modest return for Harvey would be more valuable than seeing younger guys with good arms learn at the big league level. I still don’t. For a team that has drafted and traded for plenty of pitching prospects, the Reds certainly could have justified looking for long-term answers internally instead of playing the flip game.

To be fair, the young guys weren’t knocking down the door at the time of the trade. Harvey took Brandon Finnegan’s place, whose arm seems shot after multiple shoulder injuries. Lorenzen was hurt, and both Stephenson and Reed had both walked over 16% of batters in a small sample at AAA. Garrett had already voiced his desire to stay in the bullpen, though his desires shouldn’t come before the needs of the team.

While Finnegan and Garrett have struggled since that time, the other three have had varying levels of success.

To properly evaluate Harvey and his value, the Reds needed to give him enough starts to see how he would adjust to whatever mechanical changes were necessary. He made 14 starts before the trade deadline and acquitted himself pretty well, averaging around 95 MPH on his fastball (up from 93) and posting a 4.44 ERA. His numbers from mid-June until the deadline were even better.

The plan looked like it was coming together, and while I still didn’t agree with trading for Harvey, I was comforted knowing the Reds would get some asset out of the gamble. They could then install a young pitcher into the rotation for two months, at least that’s what I thought I knew.


The trade never happened, not before the deadline anyway (and the Reds reneged on moving Homer Bailey to the bullpen). Harvey has now made 16 starts with the Reds, and each takes one away from a young pitcher that the Reds need to evaluate going into the offseason. They’ve even acquired more options in Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims, though I’m more optimistic about Sims being a starter.

The Reds have gone to a six-man rotation to get a look at Stephenson, but that’s necessary only because Harvey (and Bailey) continue to get the ball every fifth or sixth day. The longer this goes, the less information the Reds will have on long-term candidates when they might want to wheel and deal this winter.

I wouldn’t have traded for Matt Harvey; it was a lottery ticket that would likely pay out $20 instead of millions, but I understood it. However, with Harvey still on the roster in mid-August, the Reds are doing a disservice to their own rebuilding process. If he remains with the team for the rest of the year, he will take over 20 starts from potential long-term answers and that would be a terrible scenario for a team with good, young arms.

I hope the Reds trade him ASAP. If not, acquiring him will go from reasonable to inexplicable.



89 Responses

  1. Alex

    Harvey is still blocking young starters but even the three young guys who have been given extended looks in the majors (Castillo, Mahle, Romano) have all generally failed in their first full seasons. Stephenson overcooked in Louisville waiting for his return and bombed in his first start against the lowly Mets. Reed has been competent at AAA waiting for his second chance.

    Its entirely possible that the Reds have a large gallery of #5 starters. 4th place is still a few years away.

    • Davy13

      I would not cast Castillo as a failure. He victimizes himself with a few pitches that cost him games; notwithstanding that early in the season the SP rotation got 0 offensive support especially in early innings of games. Even in his last start Castillo gave up only 5 hits compared to Homer who gets shelled for +10 hits and hangs on for dear life. Castillo is still a young pitcher with nasty stuff who needs to figure out to cut those costly mistakes. His 8.53 k/9 & 2.84 bb/9 is solid; since May 1, his ERA = 4.25 is decent.

      The jury is out on Mahle. You can have Romano, BobSteve, Garrett, etc.

  2. roger garrett

    Well said Nick and you are 100% correct.This team never has went all in on the rebuild.Its always well lets do this or that and at the same time younger guys just set and watch.They continue to stock pile players rather then sorting through what they have already and getting rid of the ones that don’t belong.Just foolish in my opinion.

  3. Jeff Reed

    Harvey is a reclamation project the Reds have, so far, been unable to flip. A continuation of the Marquis/Gregg syndrome regarding starting pitching since Cueto and Leake left. The FO has not been fully dedicated to the rebuild in the same manner as the Braves and Phillies.

  4. Mike

    I guess that voicing the contrarian position is due here. What I have seen from Matt Harvey is something the Reds are sorely in need of, someone that knows how to pitch.

    I watch Luis get ahead 0-2 and nibble and walk hitters running up his pitch count.

    Big Sal is at best a reliever. An occasional good game but not a major league rotation guy.

    Robert still refuses to work on walks and is a classic example of big league arm…minor league head.

    Disco is a crafty pitcher and one that knows how to pitch. Lets hope he stays healthy!

    Mr. Mahle has potential, but is not a lock by any stretch.

    Homer is living up to his name. 25 Million sadly for a has been/never was inconsistent when healthy pitcher who can’t stay healthy.

    So you get my drift. I think Harvey will continue to improve as he distances himself from multiple surgeries. Can we work with Mr. Boras to get an incentive laden team friendly contract with incentives for two years? If some young pitcher is knocking the door down next July, maybe then we move Harvey. Til then I don’t see giving starts to pitchers that haven’t earned it. When was the last time the Reds have have an ace that was developed in our farm system?? Johnny C. where are you?

    • Jim Walker

      This is the only explanation of Harvey still being a Red which makes even an iota of sense. That said, I think the odds of a long term payoff are worse than what the alternative path of giving their youngsters more of a look would yield.

      Whatever Stephenson says, he does in fact make adjustments. He has learned new pitches and adjusted his pitch selection and pattern,. And he certainly must have changed something working with new Bats pitching coach Jeff Fassero this year to have emerged as so dominant at AAA in June and July. Figuring out what he needs to do next can only happen at MLB; and, a lot of time was wasted getting him into that situation. .

      • lwblogger2

        His motion is very different. He’s basically working from the stretch with a little step-back at the beginning. He also has pretty much ditched his fastball and he’s backed off of it, throwing it at less effort and velocity than he ever has. I wonder if he’s been doing that in AAA since he’s turned it around? If that’s the case, I can understand why the Reds didn’t want to bring him up. His pitch selection may work well in AAA but in MLB, you need to be able to spot your fastball to be successful. That is unless you throw something very strange like a knuckler.

      • Jim Walker

        I’m really hoping to see how he approaches the game tonight.
        I guess my question would be why AAA pitching coach Fassero took him down this road if it is a dead end at the MLB level? Maybe we are missing something

      • eric3287

        My unpopular opinion is that what he said came across worse than what he meant. When he says, “I know I walk a lot of people, and need to cut that down, but I’m not going to change just so I walk fewer people,” I hear someone who knows that he has to walk fewer batters but can’t reinvent who he is just to do it. And I think he’s right about that. He is who he is because he misses bats. I don’t think he can reinvent himself, and don’t think he should try to reinvent himself, as a Mike Leake type who lives on weak contact. Keep missing bats, try to throw more strikes, and see what happens.

        I think the Reds’ failure was leaving him in AAA so long. Certain things you can only learn in the big leagues. He spent most of 2018-2018 in AAA, not learning those things, when he should have been up here getting 60 starts over the past two years and learning how to pitch (or failing to learn how to pitch) at the big league level.

      • Jim Walker

        I agree. This is pretty much what I said on twitter. I also said he should hire a PR person to keep him from coming out with inflammatory hooks in his quotes. I do think he will keep tweaking to try and cut his walks down but not to the degree he changes his entire pitching personality

      • greenmtred

        The sentiment is similar to what Votto has said in response to criticism of his approach. Stephenson needs to continue getting starts (even after last night’s debacle), and Reed does, too. Romano could benefit from AAA, which leaves room for Harvey in a 6-man rotation without taking innings from young guys who haven’t had extended time in MLB. Harvey does know how to pitch, stays cool and has mound presence, all of which are good for the young guys to see.

    • Nick Carrington

      I just don’t see the Reds signing Harvey. If he wanted to take a short term deal to build value, I don’t think he would want to pitch at GABP so much. But, who knows.

    • lwblogger2

      I’ll be curious to see what Harvey gets in free-agency. I think it would be a bad idea to sign him to any deal longer than a year plus an option and honestly not sure about that kind of deal. I think he represents a very high injury risk on a team that already has 2 very high injury risks. Homer is a sunk cost. The Reds need to keep running him out there this year to see if he can provide any value on the money still due him. They can decide if they want to try to keep him or DFA him and eat the money in the off-season. Many fans have seen enough to think it’s time to DFA him but it isn’t our $28-million that the Reds are trying to get some sort of return on.

      I don’t know if Harvey will “get paid” or not this off-season. If he does “get paid”, I hope it isn’t my Reds who pay him. Maybe I’ll be wrong and he’ll be a good pitcher in 2019-2020 maybe even 2021, but I feel the odds are very long against it. His velocity trending upwards is the only really encouraging sign for a potential signer. I’d rather a team with deep pockets take the risk.

      • greenmtred

        The imponderable, the gamble, in this is that Harvey is pitching his way back from two serious surgeries. He may be a serious injury risk, but so is every pitcher who is throwing 95+. I certainly wouldn’t offer a long-term deal, but he might conceivably be just as good next year as the FA the Reds could sign. Homer I’m conflicted about.

      • lwblogger2

        It really comes down to $$$ and rather or not the Reds are trying to be more competitive in 2019 or if they plan on using it as another rebuilding year. I definitely wouldn’t go more than 1 year or 1 year and a mutual option (don’t think he’d do 1 year and a club option).

      • Colorado Red

        basically agree, except a 1 year with a team option, that can go up in value, and become a player option depending on performance.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m not advocating the Reds sign him. I’m just saying if I was a GM with some money to spend and needed back of the rotation help, that’s the kind of deal I’d be looking at.

    • DougEfresh

      Completely agree. Why is it a foregone conclusion, not just from this writer, but ALL baseball writers, that a guy won’t sign a reasonable contract simply because of who his agent is? We get it. Boras’ clients have landed some ludicrous deals. But Harvey hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since his relocation. He’s pitching well enough to stick in THIS rotation, but he’s little more than a 4 or 5SP anywhere else. But I’m sure Scott Boras will talk someone’s FO to give him 7 years and $175MM. Right.

      I think, come October, the Reds can and SHOULD sign Harvey for the next 2-3 years at a fair rate. No one is beating the door down behind him.

  5. Hotto4Votto

    Yep. You’re right on the money with this one Nick.

  6. Sandman

    I think the Reds might be overvalueing Harvey’s so called resurgence. I didn’t follow his career in NY but from what little I heard about it, it would appear as if he hasn’t fully gotten back to his old dominance.

    It’s either the overvalueing or they fully recognize that he hasn’t fully gotten back to his old dominance and are holding into him in the hope that he does so they can get an even bigger package for him. But, that would require the Reds to sign him to a 1-yr deal. Which I don’t think is gonna happen but we won’t know til after the season ends.

    That brings up a 3rd option that just popped into my brain. It’s possible that the Reds recognize that Harvey will not get back to his old self but that the offers they got for him were so crappy they weren’t worth pulling the trigger on. So, the Reds may be content with letting him walk at the end of the season for nothing. I admit that, if this 3rd option were true, then why wouldn’t they just release him. Which leads me back to it being one of the first 2 options I gave.

    In saying all this, I have to have a fan moment here when I say that, I had hoped that Harvey could get back to his old dominance while with the Reds in the hopes that they would use some of the money they saved with this rebuild, to sign him to a little bit of a contract (maybe not something super long term). Everybody says that we wouldn’t be able to afford him though. I don’t know. I think there’s other factors to consider such as the fact that Harvey has not gotten fully back to his old self that could give the Reds a foot in the door to sign him to a team friendly contract if they believe he will get back to his old self. But, that’s not worth discussing bcuz it likely won’t happen.

    • Jim Walker

      Given everything I’ve read and heard about Scott Boras and his operating practices, I’m guessing he knows as much or more than the Reds about the market or lack of market for Matt Harvey. He also would know who else was available around the league, particularly among his clients. While he wouldn’t open the books wide for the Reds, I believe he would have steered them to anything he felt was a reasonable deal on both sides. This didn’t happen which probably means either there is no market for Harvey or that the Reds and Boras are dancing an intricate devil’s dance on some sort of extension.

      • Jack

        Go back to last year and teams weren’t giving contracts to Lance Lynn , Alex Cobb and others. The market is changing. Teams are afraid to trade for a guy that is a mess and might stay a mess. If you owned a team would you give Harvey a big 3-5 year contract say 50 -60million? I think Boras will be in for a rude awakening. He might not see anything above 10 mil a year. Dont be surprised if the Reds sign him for 3 yrs 36 mil. I also wouldn’t be surprised if The Reds let Bailey go after this year and eat what 25 mil.? They ate Phillip’s 14 mil. Bailey is throwing everybody under the bus. Even the scouts now. He is a clubhouse cancer.

      • Steve Mancuso

        That characterization of Bailey’s statement about the scouting is completely false. Bailey said the Mets were batting exactly the opposite of what the scouting report said and in the same sentence took the blame for not adapting quickly enough. He didn’t throw the scouts under the bus.

        Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MORdf6ODah0

        Also, I’m wondering about your statement that Bailey is a clubhouse cancer if you’ve ever been in the Reds clubhouse or even talked to someone who is.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m not anti-Homer but if I was the Reds, I wouldn’t be too happy about him saying the game plan was flawed, even if he said he didn’t adjust quickly enough. It didn’t sound good.

        Having said that, it makes me wonder if the advanced scouting is to blame for some of the Reds’ shortcomings on the pitching side lately. Sometimes your scouts are on it and sometimes they miss. Maybe the Reds are missing too much. 100% pure speculation on my part.

      • Jack

        No I haven’t, have you been in the clubhouse to say he isn’t? Your love for Homer is overwhelming . Are you his agent?

      • greenmtred

        I always wonder about clubhouse cancer claims. Unattributed insider information? More likely just somebody not liking the cut of a player’s jib and projecting.

      • lwblogger2

        Cobb ended up getting paid and paid well. Unfortunately it was my AL team, the O’s that paid him. Mistake.

      • lwblogger2

        That said, I thought it was an ok signing at the time. I thought 3yrs/$36-million would have gotten it done and I even thought the Reds could sign him at that…. Glad they didn’t and more glad they didn’t sign him for what he actually signed for.

  7. Kap

    Stephenson and Reed have both had opportunities to start, especially Bob Steve. They both continue to fall on their face. Garrett is starting to be exposed, even though he is in the bullpen now. What makes people think he’ll be better at starting if he is being exposed in the bullpen? Mahle has been in the majors for most of the season, as well as Romano and Castillo.

    The Reds have been starting young starters basically since the beginning of the 2016 season, which is almost three full seasons now. Mahle, Castillo, and Romano have had some success, even if its not been sustainable. I would like to see Sims at some point his season though eventually. Those are the three guys, maybe four, to work on for starting in future games. They can’t keeping starting all of these pitchers or this rebuild will never end.

    Not including Harvey and Bailey, who is a free agent after this season, the Reds currently have:


    And that’s about it. Throw Bailey in the mix for next year and an outside addition of some sort and there will now only be three spots available. Stephenson and Reed are BUSTS. Chad said in the latest Redlegs nation podcast that Bob Steve has been told what to work on and he won’t do it. Forget him then.

    I am not happy that they haven’t traded Harvey yet. But I’m sure they are trying to. Seattle just lost Paxton to the DL and Felix is in the pen now. There’s someone they can try to trade him to.

    Long story short, trading for Harvey was a somewhat of a good idea. I can speak for most Reds fans here, and that we are tired of the games being over by the third inning every night. This was worth a shot.

    • roger garrett

      Reed has made 12 starts,Garrett 14,Bob 20,Mahle 26(19 this year) Castillo 39(24 this year) and Romano 39(23 this year) and Harvey has 120 starts in 5 years.I agree we can’t just keep stock piling players but rather use them or lose them.However as a reminder Cueto his first two years started 61 games,gave up more hits then innings pitched with an ERA of 4.61 and only in year 5 did he become what we all came to love.The reality is they have not given these young starters many starts at all and the first 3 guys have 1 start between them with the other 3 getting most of their starts this year.The Reds don’t know what they have because they won’t commit to finding out.Harvey and Homer getting starts is just foolish.Harvey won’t sign here and Homer will be released by the middle of next year.

      • Jack

        I would take an era of 4.61 right now.

      • Broseph

        Pretty much nailed it. Stephenson and Reed both got a cup of coffee to prove their worth…. Cueto, Castillo and Mahle were/have been given keys to the pool to prove theirs.

        Got to give the young guys a full year, or at least, 3/4 consecutively to figure it out.

      • da bear

        Cueto pitched pretty well in year three…..his year four was excellent, might have missed a month. Straight line improvement from first year onward.

        Your point is valid though. They need more starts. Stephenson’s final results were pretty good last year and he deserves several more. Reed had an awful first few starts but looks promising and was totally mishandled by Price. Garrett started well last year while throwing injured, ran into difficulty after the time service related demotion, this year began excellent though in the pen and has faltered lately but he has a lot of promise as a starter….Reds need to convince him the rewards are more worthy as a starter and ultimately pitching as a starter is easier on his arm.

    • eric3287

      One quibble, the Reds haven’t really been starting young pitchers since 2016 and that’s part of the problem. Since 2016, 216 of 444 starts (48%) of starts have been made by pitchers 25 and under. 25 is pretty arbitrary, and I’m not sure I’d count 25 as a “young pitcher”, but it gives you an idea what the Reds have been doing.

      Of those 216, 29 were made by John Lamb, Jon Moscot, and Rookie Davis, none of whom I would count as legitimate prospects, but AAA filler. So now you have 42% of the starts since 2016 made by pitchers you would hope could be part of a future good Reds team.

      Now, fully 40 of those 187 starts made by players you might hope could contribute to a good team were made by Brandon Finnegan. A little more than 20% were made by one player and he was the one most people pegged as a bullpen arm anyway. Needless to say he has failed. To put it in perspective, Brandon Finnegan spent most of 2017 hurt and most of 2018 rehabbing or in AAA and since 2016 he has more starts (40) than Stephenson and Reed combined (32).

    • lwblogger2

      You may have determined that Stephenson and Reed are busts but the Reds have poured too many resources into them to declare them as failures, after a fairly small MLB sample.

      Stephenson (Age 25): 34 G, 20 GS, 125.67 IP, 5.16 ERA, 5.38 FIP
      Reed (Age 25): 27 G, 12 GS, 71.33 IP, 6.56 ERA, 6.15 FIP

      They are just too young and too inexperienced to simply give up on. Maybe they are both busts but the sample size is too small for the Reds to make that judgement as quickly as we can as fans. And I think that neither will end up busting. They may never be the dominant players they were expected to be but I think that at least one will go on to have a solid MLB career, mostly as a SP and the other will likely be a decent relief option.

    • Joel

      I agree with a lot of what you say here. Basically, the Reds don’t have good pitching because they don’t have good pitching. Not because Harvey is hogging the mound or because they haven’t given Reed or Stephenson a chance. The reality is that they don’t have any pitcher who would be a #1, 2 or 3 starter on a playoff team. Their biggest hope for that role is Hunter Greene and unfortunately, he’s out with an elbow issue. I don’t see how they fix the pitching problems without spending in FA and trading for someone who is a legit starter.

      • lwblogger2

        I think you’re undervaluing Castillo. I think he’s at least a #2 and his stuff suggests he could be a #1. This is his 2nd year in the bigs. His velocity is excellent, his slider is a plus pitch, and his changeup is a plus-plus pitch. His command is off and on and he has lapses as a lot of young pitchers do. He seems like a fairly smart guy and seems to know what he’s doing on the mound. I think years 4-6 of his MLB career, he’s going to be a very, very good pitcher.

      • Joel

        You might be right about that, but that also means we’re hoping that this is a sophomore slump despite the figures that doesn’t necessarily suggest that it is. And even if it is just one bad year, that still means we need 2 decent starting pitchers to truly be a playoff team. So far, it doesn’t look like we have those 2 in the farm system or majors, based on the numbers our guys put up.

  8. Indy Red Man

    I like Harvey! Of course you can always twist stats around but he’s made 16 starts with the Reds and only allowed 3 or less in 11 of 16. Only 3 with 5 runs or more. If you could throw out the stinker coming off the AS break with the Pirates then his era is 3.92 with the Reds.
    36 ip since July with 8 walks/30 Ks. I don’t consider Harvey’s starts as blocking guy like Homer because I think they want to offer him 2 years.

    Not that I’m really in his corner though? Flyball pitchers are never going to excel in gabp, but we could do worse.

    • Jim Walker

      Last night after Romano melted down, I noticed my wife was watching whatever that summer filler of The Bachelor is called. One of these guys was actually telling one of the women that if somebody else better didn’t come along first, he was going to give her his rose. This must be the game Boras/ Harvey are playing out with the Reds; and, the Reds are dumb enough to play along instead of saying, OK, I’ll check back with you in November if I haven’t found anyone better.

      • Jack

        You seriously think this organization is going to pony up money for somebody better than Harvey? If you do then you haven’t been watching Reds baseball for the last 5 years.

      • Thomas Jefferson

        This organization extended Cueto and Bailey when both were better than Harvey is now. They also extended/signed Votto, DDBP, and now Suarez – all more productive at signing than Harvey is now. We can dislike some of the Reds’ moves (and especially non-moves these days), but they have ponied up dough.

      • Nick Carrington

        This made me laugh! Only because I saw plenty of Bachelor in Paradise last night because of my wife too.

    • Jack

      Harvey hits his spots though Indy. Way more than any other picture. Doesnt matter if you are a flyball pitcher if you consistantly hit the corners and up and low. Yeah everybody has a stinker of a game but the other pitchers have them 2 out of4 games and cant hit the glove to save their behind. I would sign Harvey right now for 3 years 36 mil

      • lwblogger2

        You had me right up until your last sentence. There is no way I would sign him to that kind of deal. I think if the Reds set that on the table right now, Boras would encourage Harvey to sign it and Boris usually prefers to test FA.

      • Jack

        I dont think they will take less than 10 without testing free agency.

      • lwblogger2

        I’d agree with that. I see a 1yr deal in his future at about $12-million. If I was a team that had some money, that’s about where I’d be on my top end if I needed a SP. There are lots of attractive arms on the market. The rest of his season is going to make a difference in what he’s going to get.

  9. Old-school

    The assumption here is Harvey was acquired to flip at the deadline. What if he was brought in to win more games in 2018 for a desperate owner at 8-27. What if he wasn’t traded at the deadline for the same reason .What if the Reds feel 75 wins in 2018 is an important goal?

    The Reds are 2 games ahead of last year at this time and on pace for 70-92.

    • lwblogger2

      I think you very likely might be onto something. Castellini and Williams have both mentioned winning and improved attendance as being indicators of raising payroll. I think they very well maybe trying to avoid 90 losses so they can point to some sort of improvement and being on the right track. I think it’s garbage but Joe Fan is who they are trying to sell. People on RLN and Red Reporter are a very small part of the fan-base and some are going to buy tickets no matter what. They don’t need to market to us because we’re a small part of the pie with a decently high percentage of people already likely to pony up some dough for tickets.

    • greenmtred

      Interesting point, Old-School, and it raises another one: We agitate for what seems like a rational path–play all of the young guys, repeatedly, regardless of the results because 2020 matters, not 2018or 2019. The thing is, the intervening years do matter. Baseball is selling entertainment, and the players are competitive humans. A team that is a hopeless whipping- person (pc wording) is failing everybody. You need a semblance of credibility while you rebuild. For all of our contempt for the way this is being handled, we really sink to the bottom during losing streaks.

  10. TyGuy85

    This is all a result of the Reds FO not fully embracing a rebuild. They think that a month of winning (this mid-June to mid-July) means the team is close to being a playoff contender, whereas the record at the end of the season is the true indicator. This has to be a 2-3 season long commitment.

  11. Steve Mancuso

    Harvey has to pass through waivers to even be tradable in August. I have doubts that will happen. His price tag will be about $1 million by the time the trade occurs. I can imagine a bunch of teams putting in a blocking claim and being willing to eat the $1 million if the Reds just ditch Harvey, which is hard to see them doing.

    The Reds absolutely had to take the best offer at the trade deadline, even if they weren’t satisfied with it. The opportunity cost of starts Harvey takes up and the laughable six-man rotation is an ongoing problem. For whatever reason, whether it was owner pressure to keep winning, other than the Duvall trade, the paralysis at the trade deadline was awful.

    Really nice post, Nick.

    • big5ed

      The Dodgers or Rockies have first dibs after the NL non-contenders, so I could see one of them claiming Harvey. The Dodgers could use him in the bullpen, if nothing else, because they could use Brandon Dixon in the bullpen right now. The Reds have fished some decent players from the Dodgers’ system this year, so they apparently know that system pretty well.

      Even getting the salary relief is something, although I am not sure how the Mesoraco-Harvey deal is structured. Salary relief was apparently all that they were offered 2 weeks ago.

      • lwblogger2

        Harvey still has to clear all the way through waivers to be traded. There can be multiple claiming teams. Just because the Dodgers or Rockies claim him first doesn’t mean he can be traded to them without clearing wavers with all the teams behind them.

      • Colorado Red

        Not exactly right, Lets say the Rockies claim him (and now teams non-contenders do).
        Then the Reds have 3 days to trade him to the Rockies (no other choices) Let him go for free or Revoke the waivers.
        If they place him on waivers after Revoking the waivers, he is gone if someone claims him.

      • lwblogger2

        Thanks for the correction. I had to go back and re-read how revocable waivers work. My understanding of them was not 100% correct.

    • Colorado Red

      Agree 100%. of course I got ripped a new one on of these sites (Redreporter or RNL I forget) for saying I doubt he passes waivers.

      • Steve Mancuso

        At the start of August, a team would have been on the hook for about $1.8 million. That might be too much for a team like Cleveland to block with. But now at the end of August, it’s half that.

        I wonder when the Reds tried/will try to send him through. The earlier he goes through the more value he has for a new team (although does cost more). If they wait (1) he has additional starts to help or hurt his chances, (2) he takes more and more starts away from other pitchers.

        Hard to get around the conclusion the Reds really botched this at the deadline. They had to suck it up and take whatever they could get.

  12. Steve Mancuso

    It is simply not true that “Cody Reed has had his chances.”

    Cody Reed has started five innings for the Reds in the past two years. Not five games, five innings.

    He started 10 games in 2016, when he was 23. And, for the record, his xFIP (4.29) and SIERA (4.32) were close to league average in those ten starts. At 23.

    You can make a case that he hasn’t been good enough in the minor leagues to let him pitch in the majors. But you can’t make the case he’s already been given adequate chances in the majors.

    • Indy Red Man

      Cody Reed? The kid has a good arm, but nothing soft in his arsenal at all plus his slider goes 10 o’clock to 3 o’clock right into the hitters wheelhouse instead of 10-11 o’clock to 5 o’clock like its supposed to. It seems like correctable stuff and his walks are down, but his numbers never really seem to improve overall at AAA?

      • big5ed

        Reed’s numbers never seem to improve at AAA? In his last 26 innings at Louisville, he yielded 20 hits and 3 BBs, while striking out 33 and giving up no HRs, while posting an ERA of 1.38. He must have been Koufax before, if that isn’t improvement.

        I keep saying it. In the last week or so, the Reds had very good outings thrown at them by Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber, who are both in Cy Young contention. When these two guys were the age of Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson, they had thrown a collective zero (0.00, as Dean Wormer might say) innings in the major leagues. I can’t understand why so many people want to give up on live young arms.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        Big5Ed. “Thank you sir, may I have another”. Actually thank you for making a good point about Reed. He may never pan out but we won’t know if he never gets a chance and he certainly did show improvement at AAA.

      • Indy Red Man

        Truthfully, I gave up on Reed and didn’t notice. His era is the same overall. We’ll see? I’m higher on him then Romano

      • REDLEGS64

        That’s a solid post!

        At RLN we are desperate for a winner. But I think the Reds are actually doing it right. Layer the farm system with a supply of young arms. Then give the young arms as many innings as possible.

        Don’t go after big FA signings until the team is closer and ready to compete – maybe late 2019-2020. Let Homer finish his career and hope the stockpile of young arms can sort itself into 3-4 solid pitchers.

        As for Reed & Stephenson – 2017 was a tough ride, inconsistent use in the bullpen in April/May did not serve them well. 2018 has been much better – consistent starts and a challenge to improve. Both pitchers have earned their opportunity in 2018. Let’s see if they can step up at the ML level.

        As for Harvey, Nick’s point is a good one. Bringing him in may indeed slow the development of young pitchers, but a others have said, watching Harvey pitch has to be educational for the young guys also. I will say, I am more hopeful of a competitive game on the days Harvey pitches.

        Every team is starved for strong pitching with only a couple exceptions. And when an organization is committed to growing from within, it takes some time to develop a pipeline.

    • Jim Walker

      One and done just like Stephenson would have been if not for eye turning run he went on from mid June until he was called up. Just when Reed was approaching that kind of momentum he had three consecutive difficult starts in late June and early July; but he was getting right back to the same point when he was called for the MLB pen.

      Romano wasn’t clearly better last year than either Stephenson and Reed in their prior starter trials but keeps getting the nod. I’d like to see their analytics which say he has the better ceiling and is more likely to actually reach a higher top end than either of the other two.

    • lwblogger2

      Yep! He’s only had just over 71 MLB innings and is 25 years old. I get the frustration some are having with him and maybe he is a bust but the Reds can’t give up on him having only seen such a small sample of MLB appearances and innings.

  13. Jack

    Well Stephenson goes tonight so we all will see if he learned anything from his last start. I find it funny how we keep having the same discussions over the same people for the last 2to 3 years. Problem is these young players are still the same. Every year its same ol Billy, Stephenson, etc….

  14. bouwills

    Harvey is blocking the Reds & needs to be traded or released. But not in the way you think. Harvey is currently the first or 2nd best starter the Reds have in their rotation. This is hindering the Reds effort to have one of the worst records in the ML (& get another great draft in ’19). The Orioles, Royals, & White Sox have really got losing down to an art form & there’s little hope the Reds can catch any of them. Miami & San Diego are about 5 games better off (that means played worse baseball) than the Reds & it would take a couple serious losing streaks to catch them. That leaves the Tigers, Rangers, Reds, & Mets vying for that 6th pick in next year’s draft; all within a game or 2 of each other. How unfortunate if the Reds & Matt Harvey finish the 2018 campaign a game ahead of the Mets & Meseraco ? I say substantially unfortunate as the Reds pick a little later in not only the first round, but the CA pick & the 2nd round.

    • bouwills

      Then next winter, Matt Harvey, Scott Boras, & MetsGM have a big ol’ hugfest & Harvey signs a team friendly contract to pitch in the Big Apple.

      • lwblogger2

        I’d be very, very surprised if the Mets ended up signing him again. Even the Yankees said they didn’t want him back in NY.

  15. Joel

    Is it not possible for the Reds to evaluate a pitcher who is in the minors?

    • lwblogger2

      Sure they can but there is nothing like seeing them against MLB competition. Stephenson and Reed had been throwing the ball quite well at AAA lately and deserved another look.

      • Joel

        I don’t disagree that Stephenson and Reed haven’t earned a call up to the majors. I just don’t understand all the concern about whether they’re in the majors or not. Stephenson, for example, may have had a decent June and July, but historically, he’s been a guy with a BB% in the teens and a 3.8-ish xFIP. All that suggests that this is approximately the pitcher he’s going to be long term, meaning approximately as good (or bad, depending on perspective) as Mahle. Perhaps Stephenson improves over the next few years as he turns 26, 27 and 28 years old, but that suggests his ceiling isn’t all that high. So, based on the numbers (which is really all I have), I understand why the Reds weren’t so quick to call him up. I also don’t see that Stephenson or Reed solve the Reds starting pitching issues.

        Unfortunately, given the lack of good pitching prospects despite having so many prospects, generally, the Reds will have to find a way to trade or buy their way into putting together a playoff caliber rotation.

      • Dave Roemerman


        SWEET We have a rotation full of 5+ guys. Call him up yesterday! That’s the concern.

      • Joel

        You forgot about the walk rate in the teens, meaning that the 3.8 xFIP might not grow a bit against major league hitters.

    • Dave Roemerman

      That requires communication and trusting your guys at the lower levels. So, for the Reds, in a word, no.

  16. Indy Red Man

    Sims is the guy I want to see. Great year at AAA and good breaking stuff from what I’ve read. I think the Reds (and everyone else) need a few guys that can pitch backwards because most hitters are immune to big fastballs now.

  17. sezwhom

    I totally disagree. Harvey’s been a joy to watch. Getting better and better too. A legit starter. Something we’ve been sorely lacking. Who is Harvey blocking? Reed? Stephenson? Come on.

  18. Bill Eichelberger

    Harvey is apparently a good guy in the clubhouse and has been praised by his teammates as such. He’s also been more than decent since he arrived. It’s not his fault the Reds gagged on trading him. Stephenson has been nothing but a disappointment for several seasons at this point. How much evaluation is needed to see that he’s a career AAA pitcher? Garrett may never have recovered from the early season injury because he’s been shaky ever since. Reed is going to get a chance after tonight. The young guys have had their chances and underwhelmed, so I have no problem with the team putting a legitimate pro out there every few days.

    • Dave Roemerman

      Career AAA pitcher at 25? Hmm…

      5.1 BB9 rate at 24 on this guy, too…


      I’m not suggesting Stephenson will work out like Sandy Koufax, but you might be the guy in the front office who keeps prematurely converting young starters to relievers. He got a shot to learn on the job and figured it out, just like Randy Johnson, Pedro, and many other wild, young fireballers.

      Delino DeShields couldn’t even hit, so why would Stephenson take pitching advice from him? It’s not like we’ve got a track record of developing young talent and even the vets (Bailey) go outside to fix mechanics. His 2017 topped anything we’ve seen this year so, yeah, let’s bury him in the minors and go Bats!

  19. Sabr Chris

    We should only consider resigning Harvey late if we strike out on the front line free agents and he get desperate for a contract.

  20. Sabr Chris

    What are we willing to give up for a established cost controlled starter?
    Archer returned a controlled outfielder with potential, a young needs a change of scenery pitcher and a top 100 pospect in Meadows, Gasglow and Biz. Other comparable would like been Winkler, Stephenson, and Santillan which might not measure up.

  21. Dave Roemerman

    Good read, Nick, and I agree with everything. However, I have three words for you:
    Adelman, Feldman, and Arroyo.

    You seem legitimately surprised by this turn of events. None of us should be. I wouldn’t be shocked if Bartolo freaking Colon winds up here next year He would be an upgrade, reasonably-priced, and highly entertaining (especially at bat), at least. But not surprising…

    The Reds’ 15+ good arms/zero proven starters blind stab at assembling a passable rotation is the biggest organizational failure. But with the group that brought you a homeless drifter in Nick Senzel, whatever you’d call that outfield quagmire (not a “rotation” or “platoon” for sure), Hamilton/Taveras leading off, Renteria/Gallardo/Gosselin/Pennington on a roster, Chapman/Lorenzen/Reed/Garrett relieving too soon, and the above pitchers taking starts from young guys – let’s just say organizational failures are the norm. So yeah, I agree, but I’m not surprised.

    • Nick Carrington

      Not surprised. Just a tad disappointed in how it has turned out.

  22. Mason Red

    I didn’t have a problem with the Reds trading for Harvey. Even though it was early, the season was lost. However I didn’t like the idea that he was simply trade bait. I hoped it was the FO finally doing SOMETHING about the dreadful starting pitching and taking a chance on a former productive starter. I know this franchise is supposedly in a rebuild but it’s my feeling that at some point they have to stop trading for only prospects. I also know the view by most that Harvey would be a FA so there’s no way the Reds could resign him especially if he turned things around. Again that’s small market thinking. Harvey has been decent but still better than most of the projected starters of the future. This franchise will be stuck in the cellar unless at some point they bring in a couple of established starters. They won’t get one by trading Harvey. That was obvious by the Reds not moving him before the deadline. But I don’t think it was wrong to trade for him and they should keep running him out there. What’s the point of running the “prospects” out there if they are going to get shelled time and time again. The pitching prospects of this franchise aren’t that great. It’s time to accept it.

    • Jeff Reed

      I like your last two sentences regarding the Reds pitching situation. The Red’s front office at this point seems to be in a state of uneasiness not knowing how to proceed. Many of the Reds pitching prospects should be in the bullpen, sent to AAA or let go. The near empty stands you see almost every game tells the tale of the fans. Other than DeSclafani, Castillo and perhaps Sims, the Reds starting pitching is not ready to compete in the NLC. For that to happen, ownership must open their pocketbook plus trade Iglesias to acquire at least two solid consistent starting pitchers. If not, the Reds will stay in last place.

  23. Jreis

    The reds need to focus on building their bullpen first. I wouldn’t mind going to a 4 man rotation at the beginning of 2019 with Disco, Bailey, Castillo, Harvey. Stick Romano and Mahle in the Bullpen with Garret, Lorenzen, Hughes, Hernandez, Paralta, and Iglesias.
    If the strategy works then you can add a fifth guy through a trade or fa later in the year. If they are 20 games out of first place by mid May then you stick Mahle and Romano back in the rotation to let them get more starting experience.

  24. DEN

    We as fans need to come to grips with reality, The Reds can NOT develop you pitchers. They got lucky with Cueto, but outside of him what other young pitcher have they drafted and then developed into a stud major league starter. As soon as we come to this reality we can begin doing what we should be doing is trading for good major league quality pitching. I would offer up ANYONE in our minor league system for talent on the major league level. IF it means we package Nick and Hunter along with another player to obtain a stud pitcher then we do it.

  25. roger garrett

    Den,its hard not to agree with you based on results but the Reds stuck with Cueto and gave him the ball every 5th day for 5 years and then he became what we remember.Yes he improved year by year starting in year 3 but the Reds just this year started giving the ball to these youngsters.If they would have done at the beginning of last year then we would know more.Castillo and Romano just hit 39 starts in the big leagues and all the rest are way behind that number.Consistency comes with experience and you have to pitch to get experience.The Reds never ever have went all in on this rebuild and will continue to have problems until they do.They should by now have traded or released some pitchers but they haven’t and won’t because they know they haven’t given them a legit shot and are afraid they will turn out good somewhere else.Its the complete opposite of how they have handled Billy who they have given 5 years to turn the corner and well,