Matt Harvey: Lone-Star Gunslinger?
Hoo-boy, only a few days into Spring Training and I am already sick of the fluff pieces. Why don’t we mix it up a bit with some good old fashioned trade speculation? A disclaimer, this deal would go down after the 2016 season concludes.
But before we do, let’s acknowledge either the incredible foresight (or was it just plain luck) of the MLB powers- that-be in moving the Houston Astros to the AL West in 2013. That somewhat head scratching move has set up a very compelling in-state rivalry between the ‘Stros and their Lone Star counterparts, the Texas Rangers.
Last year those two teams and the LA Angels went nip and tuck down to the wire for a pair of playoff berths, with the Angels left without a spot when the smoke cleared. It’s hard to envision the aging, broken down Halos keeping pace with the two Texas teams in 2016; it’s instead more likely that they join Seattle and Oakland as long-term also-rans. With several AL East teams reloaded and the Indians pushing KC in the Central, a wildcard from the West is no guarantee. It won’t quite be Yankees-Red Sox, but it does set the stage for a very intriguing tussle between the Rangers and Astros, with both of them searching for an advantage over the other.
Enter the Mets. Coming off a successful (we hope!) defense of their 2015 NL Crown, they will be facing some serious questions about the rising costs of their young starting staff, the fragility of some of their more older parts and the loss of their Cuban slugger, who will one thinks, opt out of his deal. If their apparent current surplus of pitchers hasn’t dwindled too drastically come this December, it might be the time for them to deal Matt Harvey, in a move aimed to address all three issues in one fell swoop.
A hopefully cancer-free Sandy Alderson could approach Texas about slotting Harvey into the top of their rotation alongside Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, giving them one of the top rotations in the AL and making them very dangerous in a short series. In return, Alderson should ask for some combination of prospects like outfielders Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson, third baseman Joey Gallo, pitchers Luke Jackson or Dillon Tate and infielder/outfielder Ryan Rua.
With the Rangers engaged and discussing names, Alderson could then pivot to Houston. Instead of the quantity he wants from the Rangers, he should ask for George Springer, straight up for Harvey. One Connecticut native for another. The thought of Harvey going to Texas could motivate the Astros into this deal. A one-two-three punch of Harvey, Dallas Keuchel and Colin McHugh puts them atop the AL, rotation-wise and prohibitive favorites in any post season series.
In Springer, the Mets get a young, cost-controlled right-handed power hitter. He has been projected between 3.5 to 4 WAR and has the power potential to slug 30 homers. He provides quality defense in right and would team with Michael Conforto as a formidable left/right combination in the middle of the Mets’ batting order. Harvey’s money can be spread around the remaining young guns, while some of the position players in the Mets have in their system arrive and replace some of their other aging or exiting parts. The good times keep rolling!
It could work, couldn’t it?
So, to me, this seems like a straight-up challenge trade.
If we made it today, it’d be all about Springer’s upside. With only 800 MLB ABs, he could still get significantly better, and he’s shown most of the skills you want in a baseball player at one time or another. The biggest questions are probably (1) can he stay healthy, (2) can he retain the decreased K rate from 2015, after it was always a problem before that, and, if so, (3) does the low-K approach also come with decreased power ? This trade would be risky for the Mets, but also more palatable for the Astros.
After 2016, though, we’ll probably have the answers to those questions. If Springer puts it all together, the Astros probably wouldn’t trade him for anyone, and if he doesn’t, the Mets may be better off speculating in a younger and cheaper direction. If Granderson gets old fast and Lagares cements himself as a part-timer, though, I might change my tune on the value of bringing in a good-but-not-superstar RF.