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Reds acquire Harvey from Mets for Mesoraco

GM envisions righty in starting role soon after he joins club in LA this week
MLB.com @benweinrib

CINCINNATI -- The Reds are bolstering their rotation with a former All-Star, and they didn't have to look far to find a trade partner.

Less than an hour before first pitch against the Mets on Tuesday, the Reds agreed to trade catcher Devin Mesoraco to the Mets for right-hander Matt Harvey. The Reds also sent cash to offset the salaries between Mesoraco ($13.1 million) and Harvey ($5.6 million).

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds are bolstering their rotation with a former All-Star, and they didn't have to look far to find a trade partner.

Less than an hour before first pitch against the Mets on Tuesday, the Reds agreed to trade catcher Devin Mesoraco to the Mets for right-hander Matt Harvey. The Reds also sent cash to offset the salaries between Mesoraco ($13.1 million) and Harvey ($5.6 million).

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Harvey, 29, was designated for assignment on Saturday after refusing a Minor League assignment, capping off a disappointing end to a once-promising career with the Mets. He will join the Reds later this week in Los Angeles, the club announced.

Harvey had recently lost his rotation spot in New York, but Reds general manager Dick Williams says the club envisions him taking a starting role soon after he joins the team. Although Harvey last started on April 19, he has been throwing extended bullpen sessions and is stretched out.

"Suffice to say that [our coaches] were optimistic that there were things that we could tweak," Williams said. "Certainly it's not like the stuff has disappeared. There is stuff there. The velocity's been good and we really like the changeup. It may be more of a pitch mix and approach than a big mechanical change, I think is what we're looking at."

Video: Reds GM Dick Williams on acquiring Matt Harvey

The Mets had high hopes for Harvey when they drafted him seventh overall in 2010, and he quickly ascended to the Majors by '12. Harvey was an All-Star in '13 and finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award voting. After losing a season to Tommy John surgery, Harvey posted his third consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA and helped the Mets to a World Series appearance.

But Harvey has not been the same since. He held a 4.86 ERA over 92 2/3 innings in 2016, and a 6.70 ERA over 92 2/3 innings in '17 after facing various maladies, including thoracic outlet syndrome. He has a 7.00 ERA over 27 innings this season.

Harvey will represent a reclamation project for the rebuilding Reds, whose young rotation has had its fair share of struggles. Their 5.58 rotation ERA ranked second to last in baseball entering Tuesday, while their pitching staff as a whole (5.26 ERA) was last.

Mesoraco, 29, will also get a fresh start after losing his role due to injuries and poor play. Another former first-round Draft selection, Mesoraco hit 25 home runs while slashing .273/.359/.534 in 2014, but hasn't returned to that level of production.

Video: MLB Tonight discusses Harvey being traded to Reds

Mesoraco has just 316 plate appearances over the past four seasons while facing hip, shoulder and foot injuries. During that stretch, he's hit .195/.291/.318, including a .220/.289/.341 line in 45 plate appearances this season. However, Mesoraco was well-regarded in the clubhouse and had been with the club since he was drafted in 2007.

"Those conversations are never easy," Williams said. "I was in the Sarasota clubhouse the day Devin arrived after we drafted him. He came in and got his equipment, so his first day as a Red, I remember him walking through those doors. So I've been there since Day 1. It was a bittersweet conversation. I think you've got to look at it from the positive side. It's giving him an opportunity."

In the meantime, Tucker Barnhart has emerged as a quality starting option, making Mesoraco expendable. Backup catcher Tony Cruz was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday to fill the hole left by Mesoraco.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com

Cincinnati Reds, Matt Harvey