The Red Sox and Cubs were granted an extension last week to work out the lingering issue of compensation over Theo Epstein. However, since both sides are pretty busy interviewing managerial candidates and expressing interest to free agents, little progress has been made in recent days.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington hopes to change that real soon. He told Evan Drellich of MLB.com yesterday that he and Epstein are optimistic they can work out an agreement in person at the general manager meetings next week in Milwaukee.
“Theo and I have spoken a couple of times since I talked to you guys last,” Cherington said Wednesday at Fenway Park, a week after his last huddle with the media. “We traded some ideas and don’t have anything to report yet, but there’s at least been a couple more conversations.”
“The Commissioner’s Office is giving us some leeway on it if we feel like there’s progress being made,” Cherington said. “I think we’ll give ourselves until next week. We’ll see each other in person next week, at least give ourselves until then to see if there’s something we can’t figure out.”
This sounds like a broken record already, but if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by the end of next week, commissioner Bud Selig would likely step in as an arbitrator. I fully expect to do one post on this topic each week until the end of time.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.