Hot Stove Report: What lies ahead for the Dark Knight?

FB_Mets-logoWhat lies ahead for the ‘Dark Knight?
By Chris Saunders
The relationship between the New York Mets and Matt Harvey has soured recently, as the two sides engaged in a very public battle over the starting pitcher’s innings limits during the end of 2015 regular season. Although the ‘Dark Knight’ has brought up the fact of a possible contract extension, very few players under Super agent Scott Boras have ended up doing so prior to said players free agency. With that being said, one such player Angels right handed pitcher Jered Weaver signed a long term deal prior to his free agency period.
When you combine all that, along with the popular belief that the Mets will not be able to afford to sign him once he hits free agency, leads some to speculate that the Mets would look to trade Harvey this coming offseason.
Jon Heyman touched on the topic prior to 2015 season ending, saying that someone with the Mets suggested that they do expect calls on Harvey, but “would not discount him one iota.” Nor should they and will they! Harvey is incredibly valuable: He is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is under team control for three more years. That low cost for an ace would be attractive to other teams as well. While he is due for a raise this offseason via arbitration, he will still make far less than what he could get on the open market.
Matt Harvey_NY MetsHarvey has also established that he is healthy. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, he has fared about as well as could be expected. Despite a few rough patches during the season, he has been excellent overall, sporting a 2.88 ERA and a 3.29 x FIP (Fielding independent pitching.)
Beyond Harvey, the Mets have a strong stable of starting pitching with Jacob DeGrom going from an unheralded prospect to superstar almost overnight. Behind him, Noah Syndergaard — product of the R.A. Dicky trade a couple of season ago– looked great in his debut season at the major league level, posting a 3.31 ERA and 3.39 FIP, and in a much smaller sample. After the big two, you have Steven Matz who was healthy towards the latter part of the 2015 season and impressed as well. The wild card for Mets is the return of Zack Wheeler, who also had TJ surgery and missed all of 2015 season. He is expected to return at some point in 2016 along with the ageless Bartolo Colon rounding out the rotation.
If the Mets do look to trade Harvey once the season is over, it shouldn’t be based solely on being sick of dealing with Matt Harvey. It should be because trading him can help the team, and because their pitching depth mitigate his loss.
When you considering his immense value, the conversation shifts to the potential return he could command.  Let’s assume that Harvey is made available for free agency after the 2018 season. When you look at what other top scale pitching received this offseason alone — David Price (seven years, $217M), Zack Greinke ($32 Mil annually) — there’s no telling what Harvey could command once it’s all said and done.
That’s why it will be far cheaper for the Mets to bank Harvey’s salary and acquire someone to fill a needed position, e.g., shortstop. The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham suggested a package headlined by Xander Bogaerts, but the Mets would probably need to be bowled over to consider making a deal.
If not Bogaerts, why not Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez? The Rockies badly needs starting pitching! What about  Royals centerfielder Lorenzo Cain? He is a free agent after the 2018 season and is a TRUE centerfielder when compared to Cespedes who only has the bat.
If trading the ‘Dark Knight’ makes the Mets demonstrably better, then they should pull the trigger. If noone of value is available, they should lean back and keep Harvey around for another three years before worrying about losing him.

Comment:  Twitter @C_Broadcaster, Facebook: Chris Saunders

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