NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Harvey was formally designated for assignment Saturday by the New York Mets, who replaced him on the pitching staff by recalling reliever Hansel Robles from Triple-A Las Vegas.
The move was made before the Mets hosted the Colorado Rockies, just as general manager Sandy Alderson said. Alderson announced Friday the team had decided to cut Harvey from its roster after the struggling former ace refused a minor league assignment.
The 29-year-old right-hander, beset by injuries following a sensational start to his career, lost his spot in the rotation last month after four starts. He was demoted to the bullpen and had a 10.50 ERA in four relief appearances.
Robles was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in eight appearances for the Mets from April 2-17. He struck out 13 and walked one.
The Mets now have seven days to trade or release Harvey. Because of his $5,625,000 salary, a trade might be difficult to work out unless the club agrees to send cash as part of a deal. If Harvey is released, a team signing him would owe just a prorated share of the $545,000 minimum.
“He’s still at an age where I think there’s a lot of good pitching left. Again, if he’s healthy,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
Harvey is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in 27 innings, leaving him with a 34-37 record and 3.66 ERA in six major league seasons. His jersey and workout clothes were still in his Mets locker Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.
Harvey would have been eligible for free agency after this season. As a player with five years of major league service, he cannot be assigned to the minor leagues without his consent.
Nicknamed the Dark Knight, Harvey started the 2013 All-Star Game on his home mound at Citi Field. He made a successful return from Tommy John surgery in 2015, helping the Mets reach their first World Series in 15 years.
But he plummeted to a 4-10 record with a 4.86 ERA the following year and had season-ending surgery on July 18, 2016, to correct thoracic outlet syndrome.
He was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA in 2017, when he was sidelined from mid-June until September because of a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder. He also was suspended for three days without pay in early May for skipping a game following a late night on the town.
The string of injuries — especially the thoracic outlet operation — seemed to take much of the zip off Harvey’s fastball. With the velocity on his heater down from 97-98 mph to the low-90s, some have suggested he needs to change his approach on the mound.
Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, said in a text message Friday that they feel Harvey is a starter and needs to work on four pitches to get back into a rotation, which can be difficult to do in the bullpen.
“More than anything, it comes down to pitch selection and be able to throw your secondary pitches behind in the count,” said Black, who won 121 games in 15 major league seasons before becoming a successful pitching coach.
“To pitch a little bit more, not rely on mano-y-mano velocity with the fastball (and) challenging people. You have to be a little bit more creative,” he added. “Whether it’s via the change, whether it’s via the breaking ball, it’s more about disrupting timing more than I think creating more movement. Again, I don’t know this fella, but I sense that he has a pretty good pitching head, he understands these things. You know, it doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m sure he could do it.”
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