By Mike Addvensky
Five year ago, Matt Harvey was dominating the National League. He was easily the most exciting part of a New York Mets team that was still a couple of years away from being good. Fast-forward to 2018, and the guy who was once hailed as the second coming of Dwight Gooden has now been traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Devin Mesoraco.
On Tuesday, the Harvey era in Queens officially came to an end when the Mets announced that they had acquired Mesoraco from the Reds in exchange for the 29-year-old right-handed pitcher. This trade came just four days after the Mets designated Harvey for assignment following his refusal to accept a demotion to the minor leagues.
Not only was Mets general manager Sandy Alderson able to find a viable trade partner for Harvey in the Reds, he also filled an immediate need for his team in the process. Mesoraco, a 29-year-old catcher, should get a lot of playing time behind the plate. Although he has battled multiple injuries over the past few years, he is a decent hitting catcher who will certainly be an upgrade over Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton. In 2014, Mesoraco batted .273 with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs in 114 games. He was named to the National League All-Star team that season.
Harvey will now be pitching in a much different environment than New York. Perhaps with lower expectations and not as much media attention in Cincinnati, he will be able to turn things around. However, he will be making half his starts with the Reds at Great American Ballpark, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the MLB. Additionally, it’s hard to imagine that Harvey is thrilled to have been traded to the Reds. In order to turn things around, he’s going to need to have a major attitude adjustment.
Considering how great everything was at the beginning, it’s hard to believe how quickly things went wrong for Harvey. He was able to recover well after having Tommy John surgery in October of 2013. After missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey came back and had a very strong year in 2015. He was considered the ace of the Mets rotation going into the 2015 postseason. We all remember what happened in the infamous Game 5 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. With a chance to force a Game 6, Harvey absolutely dominated the Royals for the first eight innings. He convinced Terry Collins to let him come back out for the ninth inning, which did not end up working out in the end. Harvey gave up a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain, and then Eric Hosmer hit an RBI-double. Collins then took him out of the game, and the rest is history.
Harvey was never the same pitcher after that. He did not get off to a good start in 2016. In June of that season, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder pain. It was later discovered that Harvey had thoracic outlet syndrome, and he decided to undergo season-ending surgery to resolve the issue. Harvey really has not been the same since the surgery. He struggled through most of the 2017 season. He also missed over two months after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his scapula.
Things really did not get that much better for Harvey this season. In fact, they got worse. With the exception of his first start of the year, Harvey has been awful. It got to the point where Mets manager Mickey Callaway had no choice but to take him out the rotation. Harvey begrudgingly accepted his new role in the bullpen, but it’s not like he really had a choice anyway. When the new role didn’t work out, the Mets gave Harvey the option to go down to the minor leagues to try and fix things. As we know, he refused.
Harvey’s tenure in Flushing will always be defined by what could have been. Mets fans will think back to that electrifying 2013 season where it seemed like he was going to be the next Tom Seaver. However, they will also never forget what happened in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, and what might have happened if Harvey had just let Collins take him out of the game. The guy had so much promise, but was never able to live up to his full potential. His time in Flushing is now finished. If Harvey continues to have a selfish attitude and does not perform well, his career will soon be over too.