Feb 15

If Harvey Is Up For Deal, Mets Should Talk

Until today, the most definitive theory about the Mets signing Matt Harvey to a long-term contract extension was the prevailing belief his agent Scott Boras would play the market and hold out for the last dollar. We concluded this based in large part by what Harvey said last year during his innings fiasco when he said he hired Boras to take care of his career.

HARVEY: Willing to talk long-term. (Getty)

HARVEY: Willing to talk long-term. (Getty)

Harvey said today what we already knew, that the Mets hadn’t opened negotiations and don’t even have a timetable of doing so.

Harvey, who is under Mets’ control until after the 2018 season and will make $4.325 million this season, today said he’s not ruling out anything. He said he was open for discussion, but don’t forget spring training hasn’t started yet and Boras is still in the equation.

“I think whatever comes up is going to come up,” Harvey told reporters today in Port St. Luice. “I’ve never shied away from it. I’ve never said I wouldn’t consider it. But I haven’t heard anything considering that.”

Jacob deGrom has been more open about his willingness to sign a long-term extension, which is why I recently wrote he should be the Mets’ first choice, followed by Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz before Harvey. The reason for Harvey being down on the list was the presumption Harvey wasn’t interested because of Boras.

Zack Wheeler will be a free agent after 2019 season, with deGrom eligible after 2020, followed by Syndergaard and Matz after 2021.

Harvey will be arbitration eligible for the next two years, so his salary will continue to spike assuming he remains healthy and pitches to expectations. The 26-year-old Harvey was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts, and despite the innings issue he logged 216 innings, which included the playoffs.

Traditionally, pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery – Harvey had his in 2013 and missed all of 2014 – and with no innings limits projected for this season, there’s reason for optimism. Assuming the Mets can sign Harvey to a three-year deal, that would cover two arbitration years and his first season of free-agent eligibility.

There’s risk, of course, but if he stays healthy and produces it is a win-win for the Mets. Considering there’s the rest of the rotation to consider and several high-salaried Mets could be off the books over the next few years, this could be the time to act.

Dec 02

Price Signing Could Forecast Mets’ Handling With Harvey

Not that it would have happened anyway, but Boston’s blockbuster signing of David Price Tuesday means there won’t be a trade of Matt Harvey to the Red Sox for shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley.

I was onboard for such a deal, and the Price signing only affirmed my reason.

The cost for Price is $217 million over seven years. The key to the deal is Price has an opt-out clause after three years for roughly $90 million. If Price can give the Red Sox a couple of playoff appearances, and perhaps a World Series title, the contract would have been worth it – if they allow him to leave.

The Yankees mistakenly chased after C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez when they exercised their clauses.

The Price contract makes you wonder what it will cost when Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steve Matz hit the market. The Mets certainly can’t afford to sign all five to mega deals at once, but they can defray some of the cost if they stagger the signings and they trade one or two of theses guys.

If you think $217 million is steep – and it is 2015 – wait until Scott Boras puts Harvey on the market in three years. Assuming Harvey pitches to expectations, Boras’ numbers for Harvey could approach $300 million.

Figuring the Mets don’t change their financial approach, there’s no way they can afford to keep Harvey and deGrom and Syndergaard.

Their best options are to fill their positional holes by dealing Harvey – who is a goner and we all know it – and offering long-term deals to deGrom and Syndergaard.

Yeah, I love the potential of the Mets’ young pitching and it would be great if they could keep the core together and fill out the rest of their roster with key free-agent signings. But, that’s not the real world. The real world has the very real, and very likely, chance of Harvey asking for a monster contact the Mets can’t afford.

I know you don’t like to hear this, but the Price signing screams trading Harvey is the thing to do.

ON DECK:  Tendering contracts deadline is today.

 

 

Nov 12

Mets Can’t Ignore Prospect Of Trading Harvey Now

The Miami Marlins told agent Scott Boras to take a hike and told him he won’t be part of any discussions as to innings limits on pitcher Jose Fernandez, and as much as the Mets might want to do the same regarding Matt Harvey, it won’t happen.

HARVEY: Is his future with Mets? (AP)

HARVEY: Is his future with Mets? (AP)

Boras was complimentary of the Mets’ handling of Harvey’ innings during the GM Meeting and Harvey said, “I will be with him my entire career,” which means they should at least try to get along until after he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.

I’m guessing it won’t happen and Harvey’s proclamation will likely outlast the Mets’ vow of not trading from their core four rotation. With Zack Wheeler due back next July; the Mets in need of a bat in the wake of the likely departures of Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy; Boras’ reputation of not negotiating before free agency, testing the market and going after every last dollar; and the Mets’ reputation of being frugal and having Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Wheeler to eventually consider long-term, it makes sense to think about dealing Harvey.

We can conjecture all we want about Harvey’s childhood affection for the Yankees and his grown-up obsession about New York’s night life, but the odds favor him moving on over staying with the Mets his entire career. And, let’s not forget Harvey’s high-maintenance diva ways and that he’s healthy following Tommy John surgery.

There is no better time to do this than now.

The Mets would be naive not to consider all these variables, plus arguably the most important thing of all: They are better off getting something for Harvey now before losing him and not getting anything in return.

And, because Harvey has a manageable contract, the time couldn’t be better to move him for a high rate of return.

Today’s hot rumor has Harvey going to the Red Sox. The return is Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley or Xander Bogaerts, individually or in a combination. Any of them would improve the Mets, and even without Harvey, the Mets have enough pitching to keep all this going.

They would foolish not to consider all this.

Nov 05

Mets Matters: Granderson Has Surgery; Harvey Comeback Winner

Curtis Granderson, arguably the Mets’ Most Valuable Player this year, underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Granderson was injured making a headfirst slide in Game 3 of the NLCS, but played in the World Series and hit three homers.

mets-matters logoOne of the significant storylines of the season was when Granderson was thrust into leadoff role over Juan Lagares and hit .259 with 26 homers, 70 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage in 157 games. Seven of those homers were leading off games to set a club record.

Granderson is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove Award. He has two more years on his contract and will make $16 million next season and $15 million in 2017.

HARVEY NL COMEBACK PLAYER: Matt Harvey won the award no player wants because it meant a bad season, either by injury or performance.

In Harvey’s case it was injury as he missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His innings became an issue, but the 180 announced by his agent, Scott Boras, turned out to be 216 before it was done.

Harvey was 13-18 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts. Harvey won two games in the playoffs, but will be remembered for bullying manager Terry Collins to allow him to go out for the ninth inning in Game 5 fo the World Series.

Oct 12

Utley Appeals Leaving Us To Wonder Harvey’s Response

You knew it wouldn’t be as easy for the Mets as Chase Utley simply taking his two-game suspension and quietly waiting until Game 5.

As for Matt Harvey, who always has a swirl of non-pitching issues about him, now has one more thing to contemplate: Should he impose his own brand of frontier justice by drilling Utley in the back if he plays?

“We’re definitely moving forward with him in our minds,’’ Harvey said at the Mets workout Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

HARVEY: What's he thinking  as Utley appeals?  (MLB)

HARVEY: What’s he thinking as Utley appeals? (MLB)

Like most everything Harvey says, it is open to interpretation, just like his following comment, which at first means winning is the best revenge, but ends with a clipped warning.

“I think the most important thing is going out and doing my job and doing what’s best for the team,’’ Harvey said at the workout. “For me, in my mind, that’s going out and pitching a long game and being out there as long as I can, and keeping zeros on the board.’’

That’s the perfect response, but he couldn’t let it go, and added: “But you know, as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do.’’

Harvey nailed Utley in an April game, so we know he’s willing to get his hands dirty. But, if he hits him this time, would part of his intent be to clean his reputation with his teammates?

Many Mets players, notably David Wright, have not been enamored with Harvey after his innings-limits fiasco was brought to light by agent Scott Boras, and most recently for showing up late for a workout last week, reportedly after partying the night before.

Utley’s decision to appeal Major League Baseball’s knee-jerk reaction to suspend is not surprising. Baseball executive Joe Torre a former player, manager and leader of the Players Association, knows hardball plays of which this was, and the emotions of it happening in New York.

Torre said numerous times when he managed the Yankees the players take care of these things themselves, and that’s probably what he is afraid of. This happened Saturday night so the emotions and tensions remain raw. It is easy for him to think things could break loose, especially when fueled by the anger of a crowd with lynching on its mind.

Torre rightly wanted to defuse a potentially ugly situation, but in doing do may he be wrongly persecuting Utley?

Sure the slide was late, Torre said so at the time. But, at the time he did not deem it dirty. Neither did the umpires, who had the authority to call the runner out and eject him from the game.

While Torre said the slide violated the rules, he never called it dirty when he issued the suspension. What are we supposed to make of that? Did Torre change his mind by simply watching the replays, or by reading the quotes from the Mets’ clubhouse and hearing the ire of the man of the street?

What about the neighborhood play, you ask?

It does not apply because Daniel Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag and put him in a position where he could not defend himself. Replays showed Tejada put himself at risk for attempting to spin and then throw. The spin put him directly in the path of Utley’s slide.

There are rules in place, which Torre quoted, designed to protect the fielder. Apparently, the umpires did not feel they were violated. However, Harvey does and we are all wondering how he will respond. He would be foolish if he did because it could mean an ejection for him or an injury if the result is a brawl.

Of course, MLB is likely to uphold the suspension, which raises an interesting question: What if Utley were to get the Players Association involved or pull a Tom Brady and take this to court?