Keeper League Strategy: What to do with Matt Harvey

Rich Schultz

Now that it is official that Mets ace Matt Harvey is having Tommy John surgery, what should keeper league owners do with him?

The word came out on Friday that Mets hurler Matt Harvey has elected to have Tommy John surgery, and, as a result, he will miss the 2014 season. I think most of us felt it was inevitable that he would have the surgery, and I think it is a good that he made the decision in October, rather than delay the decision till December.

Why? Well, obviously, it helps the Mets in their offseason plans, although I think they have enough capable arms in the minors to replace Harvey, they may want to delay calling up the Rafael Montero's and Noah Syndergaard's till later in the 2014 season. But for fantasy owners, the quicker Harvey has the surgery, the quicker the rehab begins. He is almost certain to return to the Mets rotation in 2015, barring any setbacks, but he COULD return in late 2014.....stranger things have happened.

For those of you in redraft leagues, he is not draftable, unless come March we hear he is ahead of schedule and could return in the latter part of the 2014 season. In that case, you could take a late round flyer to stash him on your roster, but I see no reason why the Mets would allow him to pitch next season, as there is little chance they will be contending for a playoff spot.

So, what should keeper league owners do with Harvey? It depends. Let's take a look at a few alternatives.

Auction League Rebuild Strategy

If you already own him in a keeper league, hopefully at a cheap price, you may want to just keep him for the next few seasons. He should come back healthy, and be the dominant ace we saw in 2013. This is assuming you are in a rebuild strategy.

Or, if you do not own him, and are considering a rebuild strategy in 2014, make an offer to the current Harvey owner, assuming he is not rebuilding as well. Trade a few high priced hitters for him, again, assuming Harvey is cheap for the next two seasons.

If the current Harvey owner decides to throw him back in the pool, he should be one of your top targets on draft day when using a rebuild strategy. I used a semi-rebuild strategy in one of my NL only keeper leagues in 2013 and grabbed Jose Fernandez at $7, Shelby Miller at $6 and Zack Wheeler at $3, so I could see Harvey going in a similar price range on draft day. In that same league, I drafted Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez at a discount, auctioning him at $20, about $10 - $15 below his market had he been healthy on draft day.

Auction League Playing to Win Strategy

If your team is stacked and set to contend for your league title, and you own Harvey, you cannot waste a roster spot with a pitcher who will miss all of 2014. With that said, you have to trade him. Get as much as you can for him. Or, you can throw him back in the draft pool. You really have to, because if you are in an auction league ($260 auction budget), you cannot waste $X on Harvey in your list of keepers and have him sit on your bench all season. You have to spend all available budget on players who will help you win in 2014.

Obviously, you could wait to trade him during the 2014 season, but I would put feelers out now to see what types of offers you can get for him. If your league goes dormant during the offseason, like one of my leagues, then by all means wait till the season to deal him.

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