Years ago, when the baseball world looked ahead to this winter’s starry free-agent class, Matt Harvey stood out as an especially compelling name. He started the All-Star Game for the Mets in 2013 — his first full major league season — and two years later, after having Tommy John surgery, he started the first and last games of the World Series.
But the years since then have been rough on Harvey, whose New York career burned out in a series of injuries and off-field distractions. After a calm and reasonably effective summer in Cincinnati following a trade from the Mets, Harvey found a new home on Tuesday night.
Harvey agreed to a one-year, $11 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, and can also earn a possible $3 million in incentives based on games started. The agreement, first reported by MLB.com, was confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of it who was not authorized to speak publicly because the deal was not yet official.
Harvey, who will turn 30 in March, went 7-7 with a 4.50 E.R.A. in 24 starts with the Reds, who acquired him in a trade for catcher Devin Mesoraco after the Mets had designated him for assignment. Harvey had been demoted to the bullpen with the Mets after four starts in which he allowed 14 runs in 21 innings.
The Mets had asked to send Harvey to the minors, but he exercised his right of refusal. It was a far cry from his heady early days with the Mets, when he posted a 2.53 E.R.A. across his first 65 starts, through 2015. That season ended with Harvey firing eight shutout innings while facing elimination in Game 5 of the World Series against Kansas City, only to falter in the ninth — after having lobbied Manager Terry Collins to stay in — as the Royals came back to win the title.
Harvey was pitching under intense scrutiny at the time, having thrown more innings than the Mets and his agent, Scott Boras, had planned in his first full year after Tommy John surgery. He staggered through 17 uneven starts in 2016, when he developed thoracic outlet syndrome.
The next season was even worse — his E.R.A. rose to 6.70 — as Harvey dealt with a stress fracture in his scapula. He did not help himself off their field, earning a three-game suspension from the Mets in May for failing to report to the ballpark on game day after a night of partying.
After his trade to Cincinnati, Harvey seemed to restore his reputation as a solid major league starter, and averaged 94 miles per hour with his fastball. He could have commanded a lucrative, multiyear deal if he were still a star; even so, he scored an impressive payday given his medical history and his 5.39 E.R.A. over the last three seasons.
The Angels finished 80-82 in 2018, another also-ran season during the prime of the game’s best player, center fielder Mike Trout. Harvey may not seem especially dependable, but his 155 innings last season would have ranked second, behind Andrew Heaney, on the Angels’ injury-ravaged pitching staff. Their most dynamic starter, the two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, will not pitch this season after having Tommy John surgery.
This is not the Angels’ first experience with Harvey. They chose him in the third round of the 2007 draft out of Fitch Senior High School in Groton, Conn., and offered a $1 million bonus. Harvey rejected it, enrolling at North Carolina and joining the Mets as a first-round pick three years later, beginning a bumpy baseball journey that now heads to the West Coast.