OAKLAND -- It was only four years ago that Matt Harvey was one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball.
The right-hander had just finished his third season with the Mets, recording a sub-three ERA each year while averaging better than a strikeout per inning. From there, it's been a rapid decline, due in part to injuries, but also just poor performance.
The A's decided it was worth taking a chance on the 30-year-old former All-Star, signing him to a minor-league contract and assigning him to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he will pitch Saturday night.
"You look at some of the stuff, it doesn't look too much different than it did last year," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're just going to give him some starts down in Triple-A and see where we are with that. You can never have too much depth. You never know about injuries and so forth, so we're giving him an opportunity to get some starts under his belt and we'll see where we go with him. We're not sure yet either."
Harvey did show some signs of bouncing back last season, as Melvin referenced. After getting traded from the Mets to the Reds, he went 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA, despite pitching in hitter-friendly Cincinnati.
That earned him a one-year, $11 million deal with the Angels, but he never came close to living up to it. Harvey went 3-5 with a 7.09 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 12 starts, ultimately getting designated for assignment and then released last month.
Harvey did pitch well in his one start against Oakland this season, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings on March 29. Melvin came away impressed with what he saw.
"He came out and looked like he was throwing hard, looked like he was elevating like he has in the past, and had a good breaking ball," the A's skipper said. "I was impressed by his stuff, so he's a good guy to take a chance on."
Let's be honest, there was a reason Harvey was available and willing to sign a minor-league deal. He's clearly nowhere near the pitcher he was four years ago. But his velocity still is decent -- his fastball lives at 93 mph -- and he throws four different pitches. Plus, if there's any organization that can get his career back on track, it's the A's.
Last season, Oakland squeezed quality innings out of down-on-their-luck veterans Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill. This year, it's been Brett Anderson and Homer Bailey. Perhaps Harvey can follow in their footsteps.
"I think we are a place that maybe even some of the guys who are free agents look to," Melvin said. "We're not afraid to take a chance on a guy who's been banged up a little bit. So yeah, I think any pitcher in (Harvey's) situation right now, you would probably look to our club and say, 'Can I get an opportunity?' Because we've resurrected quite a few guys in the past."