The Mets and Matt Harvey have avoided arbitration by reaching an agreement on a one-year, $5.625 million deal, according to Jerry Crasnick. This represents a $500,000 raise for Harvey in his final year of arbitration before he is eligible for free agency next winter.
After a mediocre 2016 campaign ended with surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey went on to have the worst year of his career in 2017, going 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA and a greatly diminished strikeout rate—good for -0.8 fWAR on the season. This led many to speculate on whether the Mets would tender Harvey a contract this offseason, given the fact that he would probably get at least a modest raise in his final year of arbitration. Sandy Alderson quickly put those rumors to rest, saying it was “highly unlikely” the Mets would not retain Harvey in 2018.
Nevertheless, rumors swirled early in the offseason about the Mets potentially trying to unload Harvey’s salary via trade. Those rumors were once again silenced by Sandy Alderson, who revealed that new Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway and his new pitching coach Dave Eiland pushed to keep Harvey in Queens. It seems that the Mets believe there is still enough upside to warrant paying Harvey $5.625 million this season.
It’s a debatable, but reasonable conclusion. Harvey’s salary is certainly within the range of what potential bounce back starting pitchers have received in free agency lately. I previously discussed reasons to be at least a little optimistic about Harvey’s effectiveness next year, noting his uptick in velocity toward the end of the season. The upside is undeniably there. But it is still an open question whether the Mets will get enough production out of Harvey to justify his salary in what will likely be his final year as a New York Met.