What should the Mets do with their man of mystery, Matt Harvey?

Tim BrownMLB columnist

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Pity the New York Mets, again, they being run from the consciousness of a town that has little time or patience for subtleness. And gray area? Paint that thing black or white, and be right about it, and when you’re wrong about it say you’re wrong about it, but mostly be right about it.

So, Matt Harvey. Free-agent class of 2018-19. Pitcher. Occasionally convincing debater. Man of mystery.

The last part is the problem, as the Mets are a team of mystery, and in the best scenario, the very best scenario, where doves coo in the morning sun and unicorns frolic in the gloaming, Harvey and Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler coo and frolic and the Mets are relevant. You know this scenario because the Mets have been selling it for a few years. Step right up and coo, frolic, win.

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And now Harvey is a two-time major surgery survivor, those being Tommy John and thoracic outlet, and suddenly he’s coming up on 29 years old, and in two seasons his ERA has gone from 2.71 to 4.86 to 6.70. Happy hour PTA meetings are less volatile.

What the Mets can’t decide is who or what Matt Harvey will be between now and free agency, in the one season he presumably has remaining in New York.

“There’s a lot more evaluating and talking to and seeing him throw,” new Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Tuesday at MLB’s Winter Meetings.

So, when teams, desperate for pitching and willing to throw themselves on the mercy of what’s next, inquire on Harvey, the Mets must ask themselves if Harvey is on his way out or on his way back. Are they trading Dark Knight? Or good night?

Matt Harvey looks on during a game against the Marlins on Sept. 18, 2017, in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)
Matt Harvey looks on during a game against the Marlins on Sept. 18, 2017, in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

Those close to Harvey believe – or say they believe – he will pitch in Queens this summer, ride it out, reclaim some of that big ol’ fastball, re-establish himself as something like reliable, take back his career and, maybe, the life he once envisioned for himself. Those not so close to him are listening to what are being termed as inquiries into Harvey’s availability, not exactly shopping Harvey but not wed to him either. See, the Mets don’t know what he’s going to be either, and there seems no sense in hanging on to a pitcher whose best days are well behind him, but part of them believes in doves and unicorns too, that they could pitch themselves back into competence. That would involve more than Harvey, but maybe doesn’t happen without him either.

Speculation at the moment seems to center on the Baltimore Orioles, who’ve hardly seen a reclamation-project starter they didn’t like, and the Texas Rangers. You can bet they’re not alone in what almost certainly are half-hearted pursuits, because if the Mets really believed they’d seen the end of Harvey they’d have non-tendered him, and therefore the ask on Harvey is probably not insignificant. Harvey, after all, has been injured. And maybe now he is healthy. And he would not be the first ballplayer to dedicate himself to his walk year. The Mets would not want to miss out on that little bonanza. On the other hand, well, so much would have to go right just for it to be OK.

It’s all so gray. It’s all so tempting. Unicorns, man.

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