With just one week remaining between today and the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, one of two things appear to be certain. Either the Cincinnati Reds and their recent run of good play have taken many of their would-be trade candidates off the block, or the front office combo of GM Nick Krall and President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams have learned from mentor Walt Jocketty how to keep all potential transactions completely leak-free under lock and key.
In other words, there are very few rumors surrounding the Reds at the moment. The furor over potentially trading Scooter Gennett has long since died down, perhaps due to the presence on the market of Brian Dozier, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc., and perhaps due to the fact that he just might not be moved after all. The same can be said for reliever Raisel Iglesias, whose combination of talent and cheap team control made him an obvious target should the Reds continue to stall, lose, and rebuild, but there has been barely a whisper regarding him of late, either. There’s nothing on Adam Duvall despite the emergence of Jesse Winker, nothing on Billy Hamilton despite him being linked to several teams last winter, and certainly nothing of note on the glut of solid bullpen options the Reds have cleverly cobbled together on the cheap.
The one name who still seems to be available is starter Matt Harvey, however, he being the lone player on the roster who will be a free agent at season’s end. Yesterday, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that both the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners have inquired about his services, and both sure seem like logical fits at the moment.
Talked to some executives, and the #Brewers and #Mariners came up as potential fits for Matt Harvey. I heard they’ve inquired. But there are a lot of other starting options out there. https://t.co/Yohnkvw87s— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 23, 2018
Milwaukee, of course, has been without the services of Jimmy Nelson all season, just a year removed from his breakout campaign, and when and how well he returns remain large questions. Behind him, Chase Anderson has pitched better of late, but the cobbled together cadre of Zach Davies, Junior Guerra, and Brent Suter all currently sit on the 10-day DL, with Suter having just blown out his UCL. That leaves only veteran journeyman Jhouly Chacin as a regular starter, and considering he’s hardly a lock to continue ace-ing, there’s a pretty clear need for an upgrade to their rotation. Harvey, then, not only looks like a natural fit as the Brewers barrel towards a playoff chase, but he might also be the right mix of solid starter and farm-saver, as Milwaukee conceivably wouldn’t have to re-empty their prospect horde after already doing so to land OF Christian Yelich just last winter.
As for Seattle, Harvey would conceivably be a decent, albeit marginal upgrade, and would certainly provide depth to a rotation that’s seen four pitchers each log 20 starts with the fifth spot in the rotation a bit murky. James Paxton is their ace and anchor, and while he’s on the 10-day DL with back issues, he should return soon - though his previous injury history might be partially why GM Jerry DiPoto is on the search for more arms. Felix Hernandez is still around, although his 5.11 ERA and down velocity makes him hardly the ace he once was in his Hall of Fame caliber career, which leaves Mike Leake-type Mike Leake and 26 year old Marco Gonzales as rotation regulars alongside Wade LeBlanc. Gonzales, though, is already at 119.2 IP after missing all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery and threw just 126.1 total innings across all levels last year, so his availability down the stretch and in the playoffs could be an issue. A similar issue could pop up with LeBlanc, a converted reliever who threw just 68 IP - all in relief - in 2017.
There will surely be other suitors for Harvey, especially since the rental starter market is otherwise co-headlined only by struggling mid-30’s starters Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ. The Washington Nationals have been connected with each, the Atlanta Braves have been publicly seeking rotation upgrades (though perhaps not rentals), and even the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox could conceivably find a place for Harvey in their playoff pushes.
From the Reds perspective, one thing remains clear: Matt Harvey is most certainly going to be traded. Let’s just hope they pick the right underappreciated, overlooked prospect to get in return.