Boston Red Sox SP Trade Target: Mets’ Matt Harvey


One thing is for sure, the Boston Red Sox are going to be in the market for starting pitching this off season. The Red Sox lack impact starting pitching, primarily at the top of their rotation, so finding an ace pitcher will be the Red Sox’s most important order of business throughout the off season.

With a stock of impressive top of the rotation pitchers available, the Red Sox could certainly look to free agency to fill their hole. Landing David Price, Johnny Cueto or Zack Greinke would immediately fix their issue of not having an ace. President Dave Dombrowski is not afraid to spend in free agency, and I would not be surprised to see the Red Sox become major players on guys like Price, Cueto and Greinke.

However, is spending $170 million plus over the next seven or more seasons really the best plan of attack? Sure, it is nice to land an impact player without having to give up talent off of your roster, but there could be significant consequences down the line with a contract like that.

Rarely do large free agent contracts work out well throughout the length of the deal. Red Sox’s fans know this well. Down the road, the free agent contract that these guys receive this off season is probably going to look ugly. Especially, when you consider the injury volatility of an MLB pitcher. Is this something we really want the Red Sox to get involved with?

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Perhaps another route to acquiring a starting pitcher would make more sense in this scenario? The more I think about it, the more obvious it appears that the Red Sox should be looking to help their rotation by landing an ace via trade. With a deep pool of young position players to use as bait, the Red Sox could certainly do some damage in the starting pitching trade market.

Dombrowski has a history of aggressively adding to his big league club by using the trade route. With reports already surfacing of Dombrowski looking to trade from the Red Sox’s deep system, attacking the trade market for high-level starting pitching may actually be the Red Sox’s primary plan.

I believe that the Red Sox will aggressively pursue upgrades in the rotation via trade, and it is a smart move. To prepare, I want to take a look at potential trade candidates for the Red Sox. Through the next few weeks, I am going to look at logical starting pitchers who could be obtained by the Red Sox in the trade market.

The Red Sox have a ton of intriguing offensive trade chips. If they are willing to deal from their strength, the possibilities for them on the trade market are seemingly endless.

To kick this off, I already looked at young Mets’ right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler, and Indians’ ace pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Both players would bring some much-needed top of the level talent to the Red Sox’s rotation, but neither would seemingly have the automatic impact of this next guy. While asking about Wheeler certainly makes sense, I believe the Red Sox also need to approach the Mets about their interest in moving Matt Harvey.

Harvey broke out in a big way with the Mets in 2013, showing simply dominant stuff throughout the year. Harvey finished the 2014 season with an incredible 2.27 ERA, but his league-leading 2.01 FIP suggests that he was even better than that. Harvey also struck out 191 batters while also issuing only 31 walks in 178.1 innings pitched.

Harvey was the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star game that season, and finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting. He would have probably been a legitimate contender for the Cy Young award, but his season was cut short late in August. Harvey was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his right elbow. He tried to rehab the injury, but eventually Harvey went under for Tommy John surgery.

The Mets’ right-hander not only had his 2013 breakout season cut short, he ended up missing the entire 2014 season because of the injury as well.

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That being said, Harvey did make a strong return from injury this season. He pitched 189.1 innings throughout the 2015 regular season, and put up an impressive 2.71 ERA, 188 strikeouts and only 37 walks. Harvey may not have been as dominant as he was before, but the elite pitching talent is clearly still there, and his numbers remain strong.

The Mets and Harvey had some issues late in the season, as Harvey’s agent Scott Boras starting putting out some whispers of shutting the right-hander down before the Mets’ playoff run. Boras was just looking out for what is best for his client, who was coming off of major surgery on his ever-important right arm, but the Mets were about to embark on a significant post-season appearance.

Harvey ended up shooting down any worries like that, and was featured by the Mets in their post-season run. He picked up a win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his only NLDS start, and one against the Chicago Cubs in his only NLCS start.

Harvey pitched two games in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, and finished with a no decision in both cases. Harvey pitched well in both starts, but it will be his collapse in the ninth inning of Game 5, allowing the Royals to score two runs to tie up the game, that will be remembered. Harvey pitched incredible through eight innings in that one, but ran out of gas late.

He gave up two runs throughout the start, but they were two huge runs at the end of the game that allowed the Royals to force the game into extra innings. The Royals went on to win the game in 12 innings, a win that clinched their World Series victory.

Harvey was great in the post-season, but it is going to be that last inning that will have the most impact on Mets’ fans. Between that, the issues with Boras wanting to limit his innings at the end of the season and the Mets’ extreme top of the rotation starting pitching depth, I could see them looking to move Harvey this off season. Obviously, the asking price is going to be huge, but I think it is possible.

The Mets are loaded with ace pitchers at the top of their staff. Along with Harvey, they have fellow young aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard at the top of the rotation. Young lefty Steven Matz was incredible down the stretch, and is clearly going to continue to be a huge part of the rotation going forward.

Jul 23, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34), starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (49), starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) and starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) walk in from the bullpen before the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

We mentioned Zack Wheeler as a possible trade target for the Red Sox before, but he could just as easily figure into their rotation plans. With so many young and talented pitchers, the Mets would certainly get by without one of them. Also, their lack of impact bats on the roster is obvious.

The Mets would be wise to be looking flip one of their starting pitching stars for some offensive help. Few teams in the entire game would match-up as well with the Mets in this scenario than the Red Sox.

Boston is loaded with young impact bats throughout their organization. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts are going to be pretty much untouchable, but they could consider including them in a deal for a bona-fide ace like Harvey. The Red Sox would probably try to entice the Mets with a package focusing on outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and minor league shortstop phenom Yoan Moncada.

Apr 9, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) is congratulated by center fielder Mookie Betts (50) afterhitting a three RBI triple and scoring against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox could certainly put together a strong package without involving Bogaerts or Betts, but I wonder if the Mets will insist on one of the two. Regardless of their depth in the rotation, Harvey is an incredible pitcher, and the Mets are going to want to get significant value for him.

When it comes down to it, this is a trade that I think would help both sides. It would be incredibly interesting to see what the Mets and Red Sox could come up with, but the pieces are certainly in place for a match between the two teams.

The Red Sox have a massive need for an ace at the top of their rotation. These pitchers are incredibly difficult to find, especially ace pitchers who are still young like Harvey (26-years-old).

Next: Five Realistic Trade Targets for Red Sox this Off Season

Landing Harvey to put at the top of their rotation would be a true game-changer for the Red Sox. One that would immediately put them back in contention in the American League East.