NEW YORK -- About 24 hours after throwing his final pitch for the Mets, Matt Harvey crowded into a private clubhouse room Friday alongside general manager Sandy Alderson, assistant GM John Ricco, manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland. The discussion was brief: The team officials asked Harvey to accept a Minor League assignment. Harvey declined. The Mets informed Harvey that they will designate him for assignment prior to Saturday's game.
They officially did so on Saturday, and the Mets will have seven days (it was previously 10 days) either to find a trade partner for Harvey, release him or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. In any event, his comet of a Mets career is finished. By being designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- Harvey is being immediately removed from the Mets' 40-man roster and 25-man roster. Aftter designating Harvey for assigment, the Mets recalled right-hander Hansel Robles from Las Vegas.
"This was a long time coming," Alderson said. "This is something we've tried to address, we've struggled with, we've wrestled with over two managerial regimes. The move to the bullpen was dramatic in itself. So I think that at this point, pragmatism, realism far outweighed other considerations."
Harvey departed Citi Field without addressing his situation. He completed his Mets career 34-37 with a 3.66 ERA over six seasons, including a 10.50 mark in four outings since the Mets demoted him to the bullpen last month. In his final game, an 11-0 loss to the Braves, Harvey allowed five runs in two innings.
"We feel like we failed Matt Harvey," said Callaway, who wanted Harvey to rebuild himself from the ground up in the Minors, much as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee did early in their careers with the Blue Jays and Indians. "Our job is to help every player in there. It's not a good feeling when you can't."
The departure was Harvey's final act in a turbulent Mets career, which began when the team selected him seventh overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. Two seasons later, Harvey debuted amid much pomp and circumstance, as the first of New York's new wave of highly touted pitching prospects. Blossoming into one of baseball's best pitchers, Harvey started the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field. When Sports Illustrated featured him on its cover, splashing the headline "The Dark Knight of Gotham" atop a photograph of Harvey preening before the Queensboro Bridge, his legend grew.
It did not take long, however, for adversity to find him. A torn ulnar collateral ligament that August resulted in Tommy John surgery for Harvey, who missed the entire 2014 season. When he reported to Spring Training the following February, he sparred with the Mets over where his rehabilitation would take place. The Mets wanted Harvey to train with their staff in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Harvey wanted to live year-round in New York, where he had begun constructing a celebrity lifestyle.
Returning in 2015, Harvey again thrived on the mound, though his other issues did not disappear. Re-establishing himself as the Mets' ace, Harvey drew criticism when he refused to commit to pitching in the postseason, citing concerns over the durability of his surgically repaired arm. He made headlines when he skipped a workout prior to the National League Division Series. But ultimately, Harvey pitched, delivering the signature performance of his career in Game 5 of the World Series -- a fulcrum for everything that came next.
With the Mets leading the Royals, 2-0, after eight innings, Harvey convinced then-manager Terry Collins to let him start the ninth. He allowed a walk, a stolen base and an RBI double, then watched from the bench as the Royals won in 12 innings, celebrating their title on the field.
The following season, Harvey began experiencing symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, which required surgery to remove a rib. He missed additional time last year due to shoulder weakness, and he also earned a three-game suspension for failing to report to Citi Field for a game. Over the first five weeks of this season, Harvey swore at reporters seeking comment on his bullpen struggles, and he spent a night, according to a New York Post report, partying in Los Angeles before the Mets were due to play in San Diego.
Despite all of that, Callaway stopped short of calling Harvey "a burden" -- an assessment with which his boss agreed.
"I like Matt, in spite of all the stuff that's gone on, certainly because of a lot of the stuff that's gone on," Alderson said. "He's a human being. He's a vulnerable human being, and kind of leaves himself open for those of us who know him and whom he semi-trusts. I'm going to miss him in a lot of ways."
It is now Alderson's job to attempt to find a trade partner for Harvey, knowing the Mets will likely remain on the hook for most of his $5.625 million salary. Even if Alderson cannot find a match, he believes Harvey will find Major League suitors if the Mets release him.
"My guess is there are people out there who are willing to take a shot on Matt Harvey," Alderson said. "We'll see."
In the end, Alderson said, the Mets' decision was relatively easy, though not unemotional. As he walked through the Mets' clubhouse after meeting with Harvey, Alderson remarked to another team official that this marks "the end of an era."
"Matt has been a cornerstone of certainly my tenure here -- a tremendous prospect at the time I arrived, tremendous accomplishments over the course of my tenure here, and a very unfortunate, difficult conclusion not really of his making," Alderson said. "This is somebody who's gone through two serious and career-threatening injuries, with very lengthy rehabilitations. He made every effort to return to the championship level that he exhibited so often over the years.
"Obviously there were challenges along the way, for him and for us, but those challenges were always worth meeting -- not just because of his ability. For me, at least, and for many others, Matt is an appealing, likeable, vulnerable individual. In spite of issues all of us have from time to time, he was appreciated for what he brought to the New York Mets."