Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Starting pitcher Matt Harvey in talks to return to Orioles on minor league deal despite ‘very unique’ off-field situation

Starting pitcher Matt Harvey in talks to return to Orioles on minor league deal despite 'very unique' off-field situation

Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias said Thursday that the Orioles are in talks with right-hander Matt Harvey, possibly setting up a return to the organization for the starter over a minor league deal.

Elias acknowledged the “very unique situation” surrounding Harvey, who testified in February at the trial of Eric Kay, a former Los Angeles communications director. Kay was found guilty of two felony counts and faced at least 20 years in prison for distributing drugs to Tyler Skaggs, which led to the Angels pitcher’s overdose death in 2019.

In Harvey’s testimony, the 33-year-old detailed his experience using drugs. Cocaine was his drug of choice, Harvey said, and he continued to use the drug even after signing with the Angels in 2019. He also shared Percocet pills with Skaggs, when Skaggs asked if Harvey had Percocet or oxycodone.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead on July 1, 2019, the day the team traveled from Los Angeles to and before the start of the series against the Texas Rangers. A coroner’s report said that Skaggs had succumbed to his vomit, and that a toxic mixture of alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone was in his system.

According to ESPN, Harvey could face a suspension of at least 60 days for violating MLB’s drug policy for drug delivery. MLB had said in February that they would review the matter after the trial was over and the process was on.

At trial, Harvey said he believed his testimony would threaten his career.

“Obviously the position he is in right now is because of off-the-field things,” Elias said. “But knowing him last year, understanding his attitude towards what is going on, our view is that this was something that could not stop him from giving him another chance with this organization, especially the way He operated himself last year.”

Harvey had a 3.60 ERA in his first seven starts, setting up a tantalizing comeback at Citi Field to face the New York Mets on May 12, but he allowed seven runs for an 11-run start against his former team that day. Di, in which he had 11.20 Era. He pitched better after the All-Star break, but finished the season with 6.27 ERA in 127 2/3 innings, second only to left-hander John Means in 28 starts.

Elias acknowledged that the stat line “wasn’t the prettiest,” but there are other factors he considers when it comes to a deal for Harvey.

“He did a lot to help us last year,” Elias said. “The innings he bowled, the luck he had, and I think the most important thing for us is that he was helping us get through a very difficult season, that was something we wanted back We think he can provide us with depth and he may be able to help us and he was in the process of unlocking some things as he recovers from the injury.

Having Harvey in the system could be a kind of protective shield. Baltimore has pulled off success from Means and right-hander Tyler Wells, but Elias is waiting to see consistency from his other young hands. The fifth starter role is not set in stone.

It could open up space for a pitcher with Harvey’s experience—and his ability to chew up the innings. The uncertainty of an imminent suspension for Harvey remains, but his presence in the organization provides another lengthy alternative.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Elias said. “But it’s true that we’re talking to him.”

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