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Angels agree to 1-year deal with Harvey

December 18, 2018

ANAHEIM -- The Angels officially added much-needed rotation depth on Friday, as they agreed to terms with former Mets ace Matt Harvey on a one-year deal worth $11 million with a chance to earn another $3 million in incentives.To make room for Harvey on the roster, the club designated right-hander

ANAHEIM -- The Angels officially added much-needed rotation depth on Friday, as they agreed to terms with former Mets ace Matt Harvey on a one-year deal worth $11 million with a chance to earn another $3 million in incentives.
To make room for Harvey on the roster, the club designated right-hander Luke Farrell for assignment. The 40-man roster was full after also signing right-hander Trevor Cahill to a one-year deal on Thursday and re-claiming fellow right-hander Parker Bridwell on Friday.

General manager Billy Eppler said the Angels had been scouting Harvey since last year and his stuff continued to get better after his early-season trade from the Mets to the Reds. They held a conference call with Harvey earlier in the offseason to gauge his interest and the two sides felt they made a good match, especially with Harvey's access to agent Scott Boras' training facilities in Orange County.
"There was a trend of an uptick in grades on the fastball on both the velocity and the movement characteristics," Eppler said. "We were also seeing an uptick with the slider and changeup as well. Then we merged that with some of our quantitative information to really dive into those pitch characteristics and they were starting to look like his pitch characteristics in 2015, when he came back from Tommy John."
Harvey's velocity was much better with the Reds, as his fastball averaged 92.6 mph with the Mets but 94.4 mph with Cincinnati, which is more in line with his career fastball average of 94.9 mph.
He will have the chance to re-establish himself as part of a rotation that features Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and the newly signed Cahill, but lost Shohei Ohtani and JC Ramirez to Tommy John surgery, plus Garrett Richards and Matthew Shoemaker to free agency. Jaime Barria is the favorite for the fifth spot while Felix Pena, Nick Tropeano and Dillon Peters are in the mix, with Ramirez set to likely return in June.
"It gives us some needed depth," Eppler said. "Our numbers are increasing. They are getting to an area that provides us a lot more comfort than we had even a week ago."

The Angels are betting on a bounce-back from Harvey, who burst onto the scene with the Mets with an impressive 2013 season that saw him finish fourth in the balloting for the National League Cy Young Award, only to undergo Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the '14 season and an operation to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome in '16.
Harvey, 29, was originally drafted by the Angels in the third round of the 2007 Draft out of high school, but didn't sign and became a star at the University of North Carolina, getting drafted by the Mets as the No. 7 overall pick in 2010.
He had a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie in 2012 and followed it up with his breakout year in '13 that saw him serve as the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game. He remained effective after his Tommy John surgery, posting a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts in '15, but injuries limited his effectiveness the last three seasons.
Harvey, dubbed the Dark Knight during his time in New York, also dealt with issues while with the Mets, including being suspended for a start for violating club rules in 2017. But Eppler said the club did its due diligence on Harvey and doesn't expect it to be a problem.
Harvey threw exactly 92 2/3 innings in both 2016 and '17, posting ERAs of 4.86 and 6.70, respectively. He also underwent surgery in '17 after suffering a stress fracture in his scapula. After a 7.00 ERA in 27 innings with the Mets in '18, he was designated for assignment and traded to the Reds.
Harvey fared better with Cincinnati, putting up a 4.50 ERA with 111 strikeouts and 28 walks in 128 innings. He finished the year with a combined 4.94 ERA in 155 innings. For his career, Harvey is 41-44 with 3.80 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
"The further someone can distance themselves from major injury -- and he had both Tommy John and thoracic outlet syndrome procedure -- the better their odds," Eppler said. "The bat missing, which we like, was increasing each month, as was his strike-throwing ability."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.