When Should the Mets Trade Matt Harvey?

May 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) pitches against the Chicago White Sox with a bloody nose during the first inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsMike:

A while back, when I saw what Clayton Kershaw signed for it hit me. Enjoy Matt Harvey while you can! His agent is Scott Boras, and some early deal with the Mets is not his style. Boras clients work through the process and take the risks associated with that. And it is pretty clear that Fred Wilpon isn’t ponying up the type of cash it would take to keep Matt around. Priorities are clear, there is a mall to be built. So, honestly, we are going to have to trade him. It’s small market 101.

Jimmy:

But imagine the kind of prospects Sandy could get in a deal.

Mike:

The financial situation makes a quick recovery for Matt huge. If Harvey can pitch well in 2015 the timing to move him would be excellent. Harvey first becomes arbitration eligible in 2016, the acquiring team would still have plenty of years of team control. And even though those years are unaffordable by Mets standards, Harvey could be a relative bargain for another team. I’m sure the Yankees would be interested.

Jimmy:

Mike, friend, I know what you are doing here, and you almost suckered me into it. I’m not going to think about this. It will not enter my mind. Two years is a long time, a lot can happen with ownership (hoping, hoping). I think Matt sticks through 2016 at the earliest.

Mike:

I understand. And I’m not pleased by the idea that the Mets will no longer be able to keep their Mets Manager Terry Collinsbest players when they become free agents. But the Wilpons just received a refinancing deal and are poised to slog this out. No matter what their empty words say, the intent is to continue with a marginal payroll.

Jimmy:

We don’t know that for certain.

Mike:

No, we don’t. But it sure looks more likely than not to me.

And when you look at teams in this position, they just can’t keep their pitchers. Because of that it is imperative that they be moved early enough to receive good value back. Beane has done this for years, going back as far as when he moved Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Andrew Friedman has done the same with the Rays, trading pitchers such as Matt Garza and James Shields well before their free agency.

Jimmy:

This is why I’ve been waiting for them to trade Gee or Niese for a bat. Though I can recognize that Alderson has had to wait for Montero, Mejia, and Syndergaard to ripen on the vine. Trade Gee, because he’s going to keep getting raises (and he’s not that good); trade Niese, because part of his value is wrapped up in that beautiful contract.

Mike:

I think this is all important to note, because many fans point to those teams and say “See, payroll does not matter.” Those teams have certainly proven there is a model where you can when_the_clock_strikes_12compete without big spending. But that model does have consequences, and one of those consequences is fans cannot get too attached to any particular player. Everyone is passing through, and when the service time clock strikes twelve they must move on. It’s a different mindset than we are accustomed to in New York.

Jimmy:

And you have to be extremely smart, and fortunate, to pull it off. We don’t often see that type of brain power around these parts.

Mike:

And proactive. The service time clock waits for no man. It’s a difficult environment to succeed in, no doubt about that.

Jimmy:

I believe part of the failure to trade Jose Reyes was a matter of courage. They didn’t have the stomach to face the heat.

Mike:

I agree, and hopefully a lesson was learned.

Jimmy:

If payroll stays at the bottom third of baseball, the Mets won’t be able to retain all their top guys. In the case of Matt Harvey, we just don’t know how that will play out. Normally you’d think a stud with Boras would wait to go to free agency, but Matt has seen the dark side. He maddux3knows how the bright future can flip on a dime. And it’s a plus that he’s shown a taste for models. He likes the bright lights.

Assuming Matt returns close to 2013 form, I’d offer him a serious extension after the 2015 season. If he won’t sign an early extension, he’s got to go. If Wheeler and Syndergaard realize their full potential, the Mets can’t possibly afford to keep all three. This won’t be the “Big Three” of the Atlanta Braves’ glory years, with Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. It sucks to be small market, I’ve never said otherwise. But now they are hitting on the emotional level. At least we’ve learned how to say goodbye. Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Carlos Beltran. Players we loved now wear different uniforms. When it’s Matt Harvey in pinstripes, we’ll be prepared. We already watched Tom Seaver pitch for the Reds. We can do anything.

Mike:

And make no mistake, this is not a course of action I would prefer. Although I have had great respect for how well the Rays and A’s have continually reloaded, I wasn’t ever hoping that the New York Mets would have to operate with their financial constraints.

Jimmy:

Well, right. Those teams don’t have a large pool of fans. The Mets do, though many have gone into deep cover. It never had to be this way. We have small market ownership operating in a huge market, and that’s the frustration. It’s idiotic for the New York Mets to act like Tampa Bay. I know that some folks see this as whining, that maybe we need to get a grip on reality, accept things the way they are, but I don’t think that’s entirely correct. It’s important to be clear-eyed about what ownership is doing to this franchise.

Mike:

And as you said above, you never do know for sure, maybe something will happen to loosen the Wilpons stranglehold on the franchise. But right now it does not look that way. It looks like the clock is ticking down on Matt Harvey’s time with the Mets.

One more reason to root for his speedy recovery.

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10 comments

  1. Well. This topic just about ruined my decade.

    But sadly I find it hard to disagree with Mike’s premise.

    The mall is more precious than the team.

  2. Raff says:

    One of the things which links Tampa Bay and Oakland, aside from their baseball savvy, is their inability to draw fans, no matter what their results are. Both are perennially in the bottom 10 in home attendance- in the same neighborhood where the Mets currently live. But history shows that Met fans will show up for a decent product and an up and coming young roster— and they’ll pay dearly for those tickets beer and the rest of the gear… The team can easily increase revenues by $50-100MM. If they do so, there will be an ability to fund a larger payroll.

    • wkkortas says:

      ..but revenue in MLB is TV-revenue driven more than attendance-driven, plus where is that additonal revenue more likely to go–to payroll, or to service the huge debt the club and the Wilpons have? I know which one I’d bet on.

  3. Alan K. says:

    If the Mets trade Harvey, I don’t see how the Wilpons hold out much longer as owners. Attendance may plummet to 1979 levels and the press (which has been kinder to the Wilpons than the blogosphere) would be all over them. The fan base has had to deal with a lot since the Madoff story broke, but this would be the final straw.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I think attendance is close to at bottom right now. It is still New York, with a huge population. Half the fans at the games I was at last year were rooting for the visiting team. It is a different world than 1979 and there are a lot of people who live in New York who grew up in St. Louis or Pittsburgh or wherever. On top of that is the percentage of new fans who only go to games to eat at Shake Shack and take selfies. Those people don’t even care about the game, and it is a larger contingent then ever.

      Ratings could be another thing though, and the Wilpons do own a large stake in SNY. Star power helps on TV too.

      So maybe, possibly, they will spend again, although I am now beyond suspicious.

      These guys sold Ruben Tejada (!!!) as a reasonable replacement for Jose Reyes. The idea that they will now sell Wheeler and Syndergaard as replacements for Harvey is very believable to me. Until they go too.

      And from my vantage point the smear campaign on Matt has already begun. All of this stuff that Harvey is a bad guy for wanting to come back and pitch this year. All of the same words came from Santana and Pedro when they were rehabbing, and I don’t remember the team trying to muzzle them. Back then, though, they were trying to sell us that those guys would be back so we would buy tickets, not prepare us for a departure.

      • Eric says:

        My hope is that the FO has an eye to the future for that scenario, and see signing a Drew now means less money to be allocated later on to lock up the players that do make it to stardom.

        My nightmare is that ownership sees signing a Drew, with an eye on making debt payments.

  4. James Preller says:

    It comes down to this: Payroll must expand significantly, and very soon, or the Mets will not be able to retain their best, most beloved players. The Mets can compete by trading Matt Harvey, but it will be a sad thing if that’s where the Wilpons bring this franchise.

  5. […] at 2 Guys Talking Mets Baseball, bloggers James Preller and Michael Geus discuss when the Mets should trade Matt Harvey.  (If the Mets are adopting the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ payroll, I hope they do adopt their […]

  6. Warren Zvon says:

    I’m glad you mentioned an extension offer. Cause the rest is soooooo depressing.

    That they have to do, and it will be a good gauge as to where Harvey’s head is on the matter. Boras being his agent is certainly a factor but bottomline: Matt marches to his own drum. Unfortunately he has already indicated that a super duper contract motivates him (and is a main goal), possibly more than anything else at this point in his career.

    The team has a few years to get its shit together in the $$ department. If Harvey returns and continues to pitch like an ace and the Mets don’t secure his services….

    In 1978 I turned my back on the team for two full years (didn’t root for another team, still watched, just didn’t give the team any of my $$) and I’m sure you can guess why I did that.

    This isn’t the same thing because of the question marks that go along with Matt and he is not totally established, but still, if he comes back and is an ace pitcher and they don’t do everything they can to keep him a Met the Wilpons and I are gonna have a problem. WARRENS BACK!

  7. If the Mets are wise, and they are not, when Harvey returns and proves healthy you lock up his mid year range.

    And this has happened with Boras clients before. Weaver.

    They guy has already had TJ surgery, it is a big risk factor with pitchers. A good fair deal in front of him is better than being left at the alter if something else happened.

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