NEW YORK — It may be impossible to predict what Matt Harvey will do in 2018, save for this: whatever he does, Harvey will do it for the Mets. The club tendered all nine of its arbitration-eligible players contracts on Friday, including Harvey, who is coming off his worst season as a professional.
The Mets also tendered contracts to starting pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, relievers Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Hansel Robles, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores. Combined, those players are projected to make more than $51 million through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, or more than a third of the club’s payroll. Harvey alone is projected to make $5.9 million.
Over the coming weeks, the Mets will exchange salary figures with all of their arbitration-eligible players. Those who do not agree to terms will go to hearing with an independent arbiter to determine their 2018 salaries.
Given the kind of money at stake, it is imperative that the Mets receive production out of that group — particularly Harvey, who went 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA in 18 starts and one relief appearance last season. Harvey has struggled since the start of 2016, when numbness in his arm led to a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome and, eventually, surgery to remove a rib. After pitching to a 5.25 ERA in his first 13 starts this year, Harvey landed on the disabled list due to shoulder weakness. He returned in September, posting an 11.28 ERA in six outings.
Harvey’s strong outing
NYM@ATL: Harvey tosses five scoreless innings
Matt Harvey fans three while tossing five innings of shutout ball against the Braves
Still, the Mets are optimistic given Harvey’s uptick in velocity down the stretch, when he regularly reached 96 mph. The organizational belief is that an offseason of rest, followed by work with new manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland, will allow Harvey to rediscover his form — and particularly his command — as a successful pitcher.
“It’s hard to project anything based on the numbers, with the kind of track record and where he’s coming from,” Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said this week. “This offseason, it’s all about keeping him healthy, getting him strong, getting him both mentally and physically in a good place heading into Spring Training. A lot of that’s physical. A lot of that’s also conversations with both Mickey and Dave. And then if you have a healthy Matt Harvey a couple years removed from the surgery, and you pair him with a couple of pitching guys who have pretty good track records, I think we’re really optimistic about what he can do.”
Prior to 2016, Harvey was one of the best pitchers in baseball, going 25-18 with a 2.53 ERA in 65 starts. He underwent Tommy John surgery in ’13, returning two years later to guide the Mets to their first World Series in 15 years.
Said Callaway last month: “We don’t need the Dark Knight. We need Matt Harvey to be Matt Harvey on a daily basis, and be comfortable with who he is.”