The biggest story surrounding the Mets at the winter meetings so far involves the team’s willingness to trade Matt Harvey. The former ace and ESPN the Magazine star probably won’t get moved considering how low his value is after a disastrous 2017 campaign, but if New York does make a deal, we now know what kind of return is in store.
The top candidates to land Harvey are Texas and Baltimore, two teams that are needy in the starting pitching department and could get a big boost in that area if Harvey comes over and pitches more like his former self. Plus, both clubs have pieces that can help the Mets build a stronger franchise in 2018 and beyond.
For Texas, that player is second baseman Jurickson Profar. The former top prospect’s name was mentioned as a possible return for Harvey during discussions between the Rangers and Mets. While Profar’s stock has dropped considerably since he was crushing the ball at Double-A in 2012, he’s still only 24 years old and has three years of team control remaining.
Profar is available because he hasn’t bee productive at the major league level and because he’s blocked at his main position by Rougned Odor, one of Texas’s best players. However, Profar walked more than he struck out at Triple-A Round Rock last year while hitting .287/.383/.428 in 383 plate appearances. His lack of power in the Pacific Coast League is discouraging, but Profar seems to have the plate discipline to compete as a major league player.
A deal between the Mets and Rangers is unlikely because of the players’ volatile values as well as Harvey’s impending free agency. The contracts match up better with Baltimore, who have discussed Brad Brach with New York.
Brach, a native of New Jersey, has been an excellent relief pitcher in the four years since the Orioles traded for him. Last year, he posted a 3.18 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 26 walks in 68 innings while serving as the team’s closer for most the campaign while Zach Britton was injured. Like Harvey, Brach will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but he would also give New York’s bullpen an instant boost, perhaps even competing with Jeurys Familia for the closer role.
Former Mets reliever Darren O’Day was also brought up in talks with the Orioles. Another longtime member of Baltimore’s bullpen, O’Day has been one of the most consistent firemen in baseball since Omar Minaya designated him for assignment in 2009. In 2017, the University of Florida product struck out 76 batters and walked 24 in 60.1 innings for a 3.43 ERA. Despite his sidewinder delivery, the right-handed O’Day hasn’t been blasted by lefties, and he’d make a fine setup man if reacquired by the Mets. Plus, the two years and $18 million remaining on his contract make him a more palatable value than the top relievers on the free agent market.
The possibility, however faint, that Harvey can return to being a great pitcher will likely keep the Mets from moving him before July. On the other hand, that same potential could allow New York to improve its team in exchange for an asset that might not have any value left.