Trade talk we're hearing: Dealing Matt Harvey is Reds' priority

ByJerry Crasnick ESPN logo
Monday, July 23, 2018

The Cincinnati Reds won't be dealing in quantity at the trade deadline. But the one name they're dangling has a penchant for making headlines.

Cincinnati's main focus this week will be finding a landing spot for Matt Harvey, the only player on the roster whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season. About 10 scouts were in attendance to watch Harvey get shelled by Pittsburgh in a 9-2 Reds loss Sunday. Harvey gave up four homers and eight earned runs over 3 1/3 innings after entering the game on a 37-inning streak without allowing a homer.

"It was a rough one, but I'll get back after it this week and get ready for my next one," Harvey told reporters after an abbreviated 59-pitch outing.

The performance merited a "1" on the 1-10 trade showcase scale. But Harvey just might have done enough in his previous 12 outings in Cincinnati -- from both a personal and a pitching standpoint -- to emerge as a viable option for teams in search of starting pitching.

Harvey's velocity has ticked up to 94 mph, and he's logged a 51-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio since joining the Reds from the Mets in a trade for Devin Mesoraco on May 8. While he's been strictly a five- or six-inning guy, he has pitched effectively enough for the Reds to win seven of his 13 starts.

More telling, Harvey has received positive reviews for his professionalism and team ethic since joining the Reds. People around the club use words like "model citizen" and "zero maintenance" to describe how well he's fit in at Great American Ball Park. The Reds even kicked around the idea of approaching Harvey about a contract extension. But the prevailing sense is that Harvey and his agent, Scott Boras, will want to see what's out there in free agency -- even if it's a one-year "pillow" type of arrangement.

So what are the potential landing spots? Sources have said the Mariners and Brewers are among the clubs that have inquired about Harvey. The Giants, who are dealing with luxury tax issues, had interest in Harvey before the Reds landed him in May. Seattle and Milwaukee both need starting help, and the relative lack of media scrutiny in those cities might make for a more seamless August and September than a deal to a high-pressure market.

Although Harvey isn't close to the old Dark Knight of 2013, he might be enough of a "lightning in a bottle" proposition for a team to take a shot. Jacob deGrom and Chris Archer probably aren't going anywhere. The Cole Hamels market has been slow, and it might be a major undertaking for a team to pry Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy loose from the Orioles.

Beyond those names, starter-hungry teams are picking from a basket that includes J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Nathan Eovaldi, Mike Fiers, Dan Straily, Lance Lynn,Zack Wheelerand Francisco Liriano. Can any team mulling over those potential options afford to write off Harvey as something less than an intriguing possibility?