Published On: Sat, May 5th, 2018

Where will the Dark Knight return? 5 teams that should sign Matt Harvey

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The New York Mets designated right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey for assignment on Friday, very likely ending his tenure with the club after parts of six seasons.

It’s been a tumultuous ride, as Harvey has gone from being among the very best starters in the game to being on the verge of flaming out in spectacular, Kenny Powers-ian fashion. In 2013, he was third in the majors with 6.5 wins above replacement despite pitching only 178 1/3 innings. He later underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2014 campaign.

While Harvey was still good upon returning in 2015, things haven’t gone smoothly since. It culminated with the recent dramatic trifecta of him essentially declaring war against the idea of being a reliever despite struggling in the rotation, swearing at reporters after bombing out in his 2018 relief debut, and then ditching the team in San Diego to party in Los Angeles.

Despite all of this, and despite Harvey never seeming to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome following surgery in 2016, he hasn’t yet vaporized all of his goodwill. He’s still just 29 years old and was an elite arm not that long ago. Another team might risk trading for him over the next week, but if that doesn’t happen, he’ll become a free agent or be placed on outright waivers. The question is “where” Harvey will get his next shot; not “if” he’ll get one.

So, here are five clubs that should roll the dice on resurrecting “The Dark Knight.”

San Francisco Giants

The Giants make the most sense. AT&T Park is a pitcher’s dream home, and would be an ideal spot for Harvey to inch back toward prominence – if he has it in him.

And the Giants have been busy watching their pitching depth sink into McCovey Cove since before the season began. Both Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija opened the campaign on the disabled list, and the team only navigated three Samardzija starts before it lost top starter Johnny Cueto. With Cueto now set to meet with Dr. James Andrews – usually a precursor to bad news – the Giants have an opening.

There’s little risk involved considering their depleted roster, and it’s not like Ty Blach or Derek Holland have been lighting the world on fire. Even if Harvey continues his downward trajectory, the Giants could jettison him once Bumgarner’s healthy.

New York Yankees

How sweet would it be to see Harvey stay in the Big Apple and find his groove once again in the Bronx? It would feed the narrative that the Mets are cursed, and the Batman references wouldn’t feel out of place.

But it’s not simply a pipe dream that only makes sense if you squint. The Yankees just lost fifth starter Jordan Montgomery for the next two months with a flexor strain. Combine that with CC Sabathia‘s aging hips and Sonny Gray‘s rocky start to the season, and suddenly Harvey doesn’t seem like a terrible gamble.

Like the Giants, the Yankees could always dump Harvey if it doesn’t work out once they regain health. And if Harvey finds his old self once more, it would add to the Yankees’ embarrassment of riches.

Cincinnati Reds

If Harvey isn’t traded and lands in the waiver process, the Reds would have the first crack at him since they own the worst record in the National League. And the beat reporters in Cincinnati aren’t ruling it out:

It probably wouldn’t be much to Harvey’s liking, as Ohio doesn’t exactly scream night life the way New York City does, but he may have to pitch even worse than he did with the Mets to lose a rotation spot with the Reds. Harvey, to date, has been worth minus-0.1 WAR through 27 innings, while both Homer Bailey and Sal Romano have been worth minus-0.2 WAR for the Reds, which is technically worse.

Sure, this team isn’t going to challenge for a playoff spot, but if Harvey rights the ship in time, the front office could theoretically flip him at the trade deadline.

Seattle Mariners

If there’s anything the Mariners have proven, it’s that you can’t count on a rotation to stay healthy over the course of an entire season. Case in point: Seattle finished the 2017 campaign without a single qualified starter. Ariel Miranda was the closest with 158 innings, as the unit was completely torn asunder by injuries.

The Mariners have a tough road ahead, but they are technically in a position to reach the postseason. Entering Friday, they’re 18-12 and sit just a half-game behind both the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros for the AL West lead. Seattle’s best bet is still a wild-card berth, but it’s not going to happen without bolstering the pitching staff.

The Mariners probably need more than Harvey, but with their outstanding offense anchored by Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Mitch Haniger, and others, they don’t necessarily need a Cy Young candidate. It’s a risk, because Harvey would represent another questionable starter who lacks reliable durability, but fortune favors the bold, and no one out-bolds Dealin’ Jerry DiPoto.

Los Angeles Angels

If the Mariners don’t do the deed, the Angels would be a logical landing spot. Anaheim is only about an hour’s drive from L.A. proper, too, so Harvey would probably be amenable to this. It’s easily the squad’s biggest weakness. Similar to the Mariners, there are too many question marks surrounding the rotation’s arms, and Shohei Ohtani will be used very carefully all season.

Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, and Garrett Richards all have lengthy injury histories, so adding more depth is of paramount importance if the team hopes to maintain its postseason trajectory.

It would also give the Angels a second stab at Harvey. They originally drafted the right-hander in 2007, but he elected not to sign.

No matter how much drama, and no matter how much criticism is levied in Harvey’s direction, there will be no shortage of suitors for his services. We’re not far removed from him being atop baseball’s pitcher hierarchy, so the potential – even if it winds up being unrealized – will be enough.

The only team that certainly seems to be over Matt Harvey is the only team he’s ever known. Time will tell if the franchise that ultimately gives him a second chance will win the lottery or add an uncontrollable distraction.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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