Matt Harvey still wants to play baseball, a desire that might bring him to one of the only countries where baseball is happening right now: South Korea.
The former Mets ace and at least one team in the Korea Baseball Organization have expressed interest in each other, according to a report Thursday from Seoul Broadcasting System, a national South Korean TV and radio network.
A deal does not appear to be close, but it is at least possible — and, for Harvey, it might be his best option after a rough few years. Last season, he struggled with the Angels (7.09 ERA in 12 games), was released in July and signed a minor-league deal with the A's a month later but didn’t make it back to the majors.
He didn’t get another job during the offseason but has maintained his interest in getting another shot at pitching professionally, including posting videos from bullpen sessions to Instagram.
Harvey isn’t the only one with recent interest in the KBO. In the absence of baseball in the United States, as owners and players barely negotiate financial terms to start the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stateside interest in Korean baseball has ticked up. That includes a deal between the league and ESPN, which broadcasts several games live (and replays them later in the day) per week.
Among the factors standing between Harvey and pitching in Korea, aside from needing an actual contract offer: An incoming player would need to wait out a mandatory two-week quarantine period upon arriving in South Korea; Harvey would need to build up his pitch count/stamina; KBO rules dictate that a team can have only three foreign players on its roster.
American players with Harvey’s degree of fame almost never join foreign baseball leagues. Among those currently in the KBO are a trio of former Mets: Chris Flexen, Drew Gagnon and Aaron Altherr.