The 2017 Winter Meetings will be remembered for the Giancarlo Stanton trade, but rumors circulating around trade of New York Mets’ starter Matt Harvey to either the Texas Rangers or the Baltimore Orioles have piqued my interest.
Harvey, a former rookie phenom and All-Star game starter, has quickly fallen out of the New York spotlight due to thoracic outlet syndrome and a stress injury in his right scapula.
Perhaps Harvey’s best season was 2015, in which he used his iron-horse mentality to push the Mets to the World Series. During this time, I was a freshman on UConn-Avery Point’s baseball team where Ed Harvey, Matt’s dad, was my hitting coach.
My Experience with the Harvey Family
I had an opportunity to sit down with Ed shortly after the 2015 World Series, to discuss Matt’s rise to fame and his then state as one of the game’s best players. What was supposed to be a short interview of about 10 questions turned into a 3-hour, post-practice lecture.
The Harvey family is from Mystic, Connecticut, a short drive from both Avery Point and Fitch High School, where Matt drew a crowd of about 60 scouts every time he took the field, according to his father. More importantly, the Harveys grew up as Yankees fans. In the 2007 MLB draft, the Yankees held the last pick in the first round.
Earlier that day, a Yankees scout called Ed and told him, “If he’s still on the board, we are going to take him.” He was still on the board when the Yankees selected Andrew Brackman.
“After the first round was over, Matt had left the house and I went into the backyard. I was pretty ticked off,” Ed recalled.
With the 118th overall pick, the Los Angeles Angels selected Matt, and offered him a one million dollar signing bonus, which is generous for a third-rounder. Matt felt he was worth two million, and a deal was never reached. Two days later, the Harvey family was headed to the University of North Carolina.
After a successful three years as a Tar Heel, Matt was drafted 7th overall by the Mets, who face an everlasting shadow cast by the cross-town Yankees.
Flash forward to game five of the 2015 World Series, and the now heralded Matt Harvey is on the mound at Citi Field, facing the soon-to-be world champion Kansas City Royals. Certainly, a Matt Harvey trade was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind at that point, but believe it or not, this was the beginning of Matt’s rapid downfall.
Mets manager Terry Collins allowed Matt to pitch the 9th inning. “Would I have taken him out?” Ed asked. “Absolutely! He was over 100 pitches, and his track record at that number of pitches isn’t that great.”
In the spring of 2016, I vividly remember going to practice the day after Matt got shelled by the Atlanta Braves. Ed was usually not in charge of the team’s conditioning circuits, but on that freezing cold day, we ran like a football team. That is the collateral damage of having an MLB father as your coach.
Ed was usually civil when talking about Matt or any Mets-related logistics, but if you interrogated him enough, he would give some insight. For example, Ed was impossible to talk to the day after Yoenis Cespedes made an error in the outfield, regardless of whether Matt was pitching or not. However, he did enjoy the Cuban cigars Cespedes would send him, and liked watching him drive a golf ball 350 yards.
Whenever Ed was asked about Mets personnel and the decisions they made regarding Matt’s career, he would pause, drag his fungo in the dirt, and carefully choose his words.
Why This Matters Going Forward
When the trade rumors surfaced this past Monday, I immediately thought of my past interactions with the Harveys and laughed.
New York has not taken it easy on Matt Harvey. He’s gone through multiple surgeries, innings limits, and off-field issues that have pushed him past the point of no return; Matt Harvey has to get out of New York.
The Rangers were not interested in a Jurickson Profar for Matt Harvey trade, and referenced Matt’s injury history as a reason why. If the Orioles were to trade for the former superstar by giving up reliever Brad Brach, Harvey would be put into a smaller market. Baltimore would give him an opportunity to restore his former dominance, and put his father’s thoughts at ease. Though the Al East isn’t exactly the best place to regain one’s form.
– Mike Milius