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May 24

Matt Harvey’s New Clothes

The New York media has turned on Mets phenom Matt Harvey already.  This is funny considering Harvey hasn’t pitched since August 2013, and when he did pitch, each outing was one notch below a religious experience.  Such is the state of the Mets that erstwhile sane human beings lose their shit when covering them.

Hearing Harvey needed Tommy John surgery was a dark day.  Could this franchise have nothing good?  It always felt as though Harvey was a short timer for the Mets.  He grew up a Yankees fan.  His agent is Scott Boras.  Despite claims by Fred Wilpon to the contrary, the Mets owners are deeply in debt.  Maybe these things change by the end of 2018, when Harvey can become a free agent.  Judging by 52 years of past history, I seriously doubt it.  So with each start I began to imagine Harvey wearing another uniform.  Free agency is a zero sum game, of course, so the Mets would lose, again, but who wins?

Before that, though, why stop with Harvey?  What about Jose Fernandez?  The two could be Corsican Brothers (or just read the story) for the similarities:  both represented by Boras; both play for cheap/broke franchises; both undergoing Tommy John surgery early in their careers (important since they have plenty of time to hit their respective peaks before entering the big money years); and both become free agents after 2018.  So, to heap misery like a steaming pile, I imagine Boras’ clients in new uniforms.  It’s inevitable.  It’s going to happen.  It’s only cruel to not begin our denial phase now.

Player Current Team New Team Year Eligible
Jose Fernandez Marlins Dodgers 2019
Matt Harvey Mets Yankees 2019
Gerrit Cole Pirates Dodgers 2020
Stephen Strasburg Nationals Yankees 2017
Bryce Harper Nationals Dodgers 2019
Anthony Rendon Nationals Yankees 2020
Manny Machado Orioles Dodgers 2019
Pedro Alvarez Pirates Yankees 2017
Carlos Gomez Brewers Dodgers 2017
Desmond Jennings Rays Yankees 2018
Mike Moustakas Royals LOL 2018

In the above scenario, I split the free agents evenly between the Yankees and Dodgers, which I think is only fair. Each team receives two young pitchers whom by that time may have already received the latest breakthrough in UCL replacement, a robotic ligament, creatively dubbed TJV2, and I gave the Dodgers two premium outfielders since they seem to collect those sort of guys and one infielder while the Yankees receive one outfielder and two infielders.  Does it matter that Rendon and Alvarez play the same position?  Not at all.  If the Yankees haven’t traded for Prince Fielder by then, Alvarez can play first, and if Fielder is for some unknown reason manning first in the Bronx, Rendon plays second.

See?  This is easy.

Of course, this doesn’t account for the unpredictability of new television deals and wildcard teams throwing big dollars around.  What about Philadelphia?  The Angels?  Who knows if the Tigers will still be spending or if Dan Gilbert will have completely rebuilt Detroit by 2019 to make Downtown Motor City appealing to potential free agents, but if so, there just might be competition for Harvey’s services.

Look at this objectively.  Currently, the Dodgers carry a 231 million dollar payroll while the Yankees are a tic above 197 million.

Those salary commitments become more manageable for the Yankees after 2017 (all years are when players come off books, not last year of contract) when they no longer are paying Derek Jeter (2014), Alfonso Soriano and Hiroki Kuroda (2015), C. C. Sabathia (2016), Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran (2017), and wait until 2018 when Alex Rodriguez and that 27.5 million dollar albatross isn’t hanging over the Yankees’ head.

And the Dodgers?  Oh boy.  Now we’re talking.  Even after they sign Hanley Ramirez to a ridiculously overpriced contract this offseason, the Dodgers will be big spenders by the time Harper and Machado become free agents in 2019.  The Dodgers will lose Carl Crawford (2018), Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Zack Greinke (2019), and Matt Kemp (2020).  Sure there’s wiggle room there to overpay Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and maybe those Dodgers extend Greinke for a few extra.  Instead of actual water, it rains money in Los Angeles.  Who cares?  Hollywood dollars are the sunniest dollars.

Does this make me happy?  No.  This makes me very, very sad.  Enjoy these players while they’re still cost controlled.  One day, they’ll all be aging rapidly on either coast, playing during a game time of your convenience.

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