COMMENTARY | Through the first month of the season, the main attraction in Flushing has been Matt Harvey. Harvey has dazzled both Mets and baseball fans alike with a 1.54 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, and 3.90 K/BB. He's even won 4 of his first 5 starts in 2013. But with each dominant game the 24 year-old ace spins, his future price tag only increases. And that's why the Mets need to extend Harvey soon--if not next week.
Even though Harvey has yet to pitch a full season, there is still plenty of incentive for the Mets to extend their brightest homegrown pitcher since Dwight Gooden. In 15 career starts, Harvey has owned a 2.29 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 3.03 K/BB--but he's also been worth 3.4 WAR. Since 1.0 WAR is roughly equivalent to $5.5 million, Harvey has been worth around $18.7 million in just 88 1/3 innings.
But as great as Harvey has been so far, how much will he be worth in the future? To be conservative, assume Harvey is--right now--a 5.0 WAR pitcher.
Also, borrowing a bit from Bill Petti's FanGraphs article on projecting value, one must assume the following:
-The dollar value of WAR will increase 5% each year, due to inflation
-A player gains .5 WAR per year through ages 24-27 (this portion is particularly assumptive, and not part of Petti's data)
-A player loses .5 WAR per year through ages 28-32
-A player loses .7 WAR per year from age 33-onward
2013: 24 (Age), 5.50 ($/WAR), 5.0 (WAR Proj.), 27.50 ($ Value in Millions)
2014: 25 (Age), 5.77 ($/WAR), 5.5 (WAR Proj.), 31.76 ($ Value in Millions)
2015: 26 (Age), 6.06 ($/WAR), 6.0 (WAR Proj.), 36.38 ($ Value in Millions)
2016: 27 (Age), 6.36 ($/WAR), 6.5 (WAR Proj.), 41.38 ($ Value in Millions)
2017: 28 (Age), 6.68 ($/WAR), 6.0 (WAR Proj.), 40.11 ($ Value in Millions)
2018: 29 (Age), 7.02 ($/WAR), 5.5 (WAR Proj.), 38.60 ($ Value in Millions)
2019: 30 (Age), 7.37 ($/WAR), 5.0 (WAR Proj.), 36.85 ($ Value in Millions)
2020: 31 (Age), 7.73 ($/WAR), 4.5 (WAR Proj.), 34.82 ($ Value in Millions)
2021: 32 (Age), 8.12 ($/WAR), 4.0 (WAR Proj.), 32.50 ($ Value in Millions)
2022: 33 (Age), 8.53 ($/WAR), 3.3 (WAR Proj.), 28.15 ($ Value in Millions)
2023: 34 (Age), 8.95 ($/WAR), 2.6 (WAR Proj.), 23.29 ($ Value in Millions)
(for a cleaner version of the chart above, click here)
According to the above chart, at his peak (age 27), Harvey could be worth as much as 6.5 WAR in 2016--or, with inflation, an astounding $41.38 million. Over the course of 11 years, Harvey's cumulative value could be in the $370 million arena. But, obviously, the Mets--or any team for that matter--would be crazy to hand a pitcher with such little experience 50 percent of that amount.
This is where the negotiations would get tricky. To-date, the only true contract comparison has been Matt Moore. After pitching just 9 1/3 innings in the final month of the 2011 season, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Moore to a 5 year, $14 million extension with team options for 2017 through 2019. The base deal (team options included) could be worth a maximum of $40 million over 8 years, with a variety of additional, incremental incentives.
Like Harvey, Moore too was a highly touted prospect--in fact, he was regarded as a superior pitcher. Moore was ranked as the #35, #15, and #2 prospect in 2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively, by Baseball America. By comparison, Harvey was "only" ranked #35 by Baseball America in 2012. Also, Moore owned a career 2.64 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 3.30 K/BB in the minor leagues, while Harvey hurled a collective 3.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 2.82 K/BB during his minor league duties. Also, both pitchers are the same age.
Yet, Harvey does have a few more advantages in his prospective extension. Given that Harvey has produced more, pre-contract, than Moore did at the time of his deal, as well as factoring in the type of exposure Harvey has already generated, the Mets stud would arguably be in-line for a richer extension. And even though Scott Boras is Harvey's agent--and would likely advise his client to go through arbitration--if the Mets offered him a 7 year contract worth $70 million, it would be shocking to see the hurler turn it down. Harvey could feasibly view the extension as an insurance policy for any potential career-threatening arm injury between ages 25 through 31, as pitchers experience a higher volume of injury-related risk. There's value in that for a young pitcher.
Extension talks aside, Mets fans are just happy to see Matt Harvey pitching so well. And heck, the guy will still be under team control through at least 2018--even though his arbitration settlements might break some records.
Ben Berkon is a freelance sports, humor, and tech writer/blogger from New York City. Berkon's work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Onion, Contently, Medium, and Rising Apple, and he also manages The Beanball and Blah Blah Berkon, his personal stat-heavy baseball and humor blogs, respectively. He's [unfortunately] been a Mets follower his entire life.
Follow him at @BenBerkon.
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