Back in February, when Jose Valverde was still looking for work, a report that he was close to signing with the Marlins was almost immediately shot down and called “a typical ploy by Scott Boras.”
I bring this up because yesterday, when Valverde spoke to the Detroit media upon rejoining the Tigers, he told reporters that the Yankees and Mets were among several teams that had made him major-league contract offers that he turned down.
That seemed odd, because until two weeks ago Valverde was unemployed. And sure enough when asked about Valverde’s claim Yankees general manager Brian Cashman emphatically denied offering him a major-league deal or a minor-league deal. In fact, Cashman said “false, false, false” and explained that the Yankees never even had negotiations with Valverde. But wait, what about the Mets? Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that they didn’t make Valverde an offer either.
Who knows if Valverde was fibbing or if he was simply working off less than accurate information relayed to him by his agent, but either way … he wasn’t turning down big-league offers this offseason.
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.