The market for Cincinnati Reds pitcher Matt Harvey hasn’t exactly been robust to date, at least not in the publicly floated rumors. There was mention the other day that both the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners might have interest in the free agent to-be, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, but since that time there has been largely inertia on the Reds side and some interesting developments in the rental market as a whole.
For instance, just today the Brewers opted to snag Chicago White Sox reliever Joakim Soria, himself a rental for this year (with an option for 2019), choosing to first address their bullpen instead of a starting rotation that otherwise appeared the obvious hole needing patched. Not to mention, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi dropped news earlier today that the Brewers were actually in discussions with the New York Mets about Harvey’s former teammate Zack Wheeler, who’s both pitching better than Harvey this year and comes with team control in 2019.
A step back from those two teams also paints a bit of a murky picture for Harvey’s potential suitors. The Boston Red Sox already bolstered their pitching options by acquiring Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays, for instance, and there are rampant rumors connecting the New York Yankees to free agent to-be J.A. Happ - with some also linking him to both the Brewers and Chicago Cubs, as MLB Trade Rumors took note of last night. Considering the only logistical landing spots for Harvey, a rental, are teams with eyes on making a run to and through the postseason this year, that’s a good number of the already limited potential landing spots that appear to either be addressing other needs or seeking help that would make a Harvey addition redundant.
The one wild card in this all might well be the Washington Nationals. Their absurdly talented and expensive roster simply hasn’t been able to get things going so far in 2018, and they currently sit a game under the .500 mark in 3rd place in the NL East, 7 games back of the division lead and 5.5 games back in the race for a Wild Card spot - behind 9 other teams. On top of that, they just placed co-ace Stephen Strasburg back on the 10-day DL today with a nerve impingement, meaning their decision to go all-in in Bryce Harper’s final year under contract versus beginning a massive sell-off has become quite the pertinent one, as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman discussed with Washington GM Mike Rizzo. If the Nats are truly to the point where they’re even close to considering cashing in on Harper the way the Baltimore Orioles did with Manny Machado, the concept of bringing in Matt Harvey doesn’t exactly appear to move the needle enough to sway that decision in the ‘win now’ direction, does it?
Perhaps dealmaker Jerry DiPoto will still jump in and add Harvey to a Mariners squad that could use some rotation depth, as they sport a starter in Marco Gonzales who will likely bump up against a post-Tommy John surgery innings limit and another starter in Wade LeBlanc who might face an innings cap, too - with his due to the fact that he’s been a reliever for most of his career. The Philadelphia Phillies, in town and about to face Harvey in Cincinnati over the weekend, might be in the market for a veteran starter in their breakout season, though they’ve both lightly been linked to the idea - and when they have, it’s been a would-be reunion with former ace Cole Hamels that’s been bandied about the most. The Atlanta Braves have discussed adding pitching, but prefer to add a piece that would be around for longer than just this season, and the other contenders at the moment - Cleveland, the Dodgers, Arizona, and Houston - all sport starting rotations that are already considered their strengths.
An unknown certainly could still pop up here, too. Heck, an injury akin to the one that just sidelined Strasburg could create an opening that’s currently unseen. Or, at the least, there’s still a chance that Harvey could get moved in the August waiver-trade period, though his $5.6 million salary for this year might not be prohibitive enough for him to pass entirely through waivers.
Still, the clock is certainly ticking, with five days remaining until the deadline. Hamels, Happ, Wheeler, Detroit starter Mike Fiers, Wheeler, and even Tyson Ross are all still on teams looking to deal, and there’s certainly no guarantee that all of them end up getting moved, much less in deals that stand out as ‘wins’ for the clubs dealing them. The Cincinnati front office did great work in landing Harvey and deserve a high-five for having done so, but they’ve still got some grinding to do to find a landing spot for him now.