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Orioles, Rangers interested in Mets’ Matt Harvey, source says

Matt Harvey of the Mets stands on the

Matt Harvey of the Mets stands on the mound against the Reds at Citi Field on Sept. 7, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Matt Harvey’s name has come up in trade discussions at baseball’s winter meetings, sources confirmed. But a person with knowledge of the Mets’ thinking said team officials are doubtful that the righthander will be moved, especially with the team concerned about pitching depth after injuries wrecked the starting rotation last season.

The Rangers and Orioles have emerged as potential suitors for Harvey, a source confirmed. But in the Rangers’ case, the discussion was wide-ranging and involved several other players.

Infielder Jurickson Profar, a former top prospect whose career has been sidetracked by shoulder problems, has emerged as a possible target for the Mets, a source confirmed. With the Mets looking for a second baseman, Profar could fit.

According to The Athletic, the Orioles’ talks for Harvey have centered on Brad Brach, a reliever who would fulfill the Mets’ desire to improve their bullpen.

A source told Newsday that former Rays reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as another top target on the free-agent market. Thanks to an uptick in velocity, the righthander posted a 2.61 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 58 2⁄3 innings for the Rays. He’s viewed as a strong alternative to Bryan Shaw, who has been on the Mets’ radar for most of the offseason.

The Mets also have expressed interest in free-agent reliever Steve Cishek, a source said, adding another pitcher to a growing list of possibilities. Cishek had a 2.01 ERA in 49 games, doing his best work after his trade from the Mariners to the Rays.

One day after Mets general manager Sandy Alderson hinted that he will wait out the market for relievers, he said it would be “desirable” for the Mets to add a new bullpen arm before the end of the winter meetings.

“We’re still focused most immediately on the bullpen,” Alderson said.

Perhaps Harvey would facilitate a deal. That his name has resurfaced in trade talks comes as little surprise. Leading up to the meetings, a rival executive said the Mets let it be known that they would be open to dealing any of their starting pitchers aside from Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.

Harvey, 28, has been viewed by other clubs as a buy-low candidate. Even during the regular season, rival teams inquired about him, hoping to swoop in with his value likely at its nadir.

The righthander has struggled to bounce back from thoracic outlet syndrome. He went 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA last season, and only late in the year did his velocity begin to tick upward.

But Mets officials never moved toward a trade, preferring to stick with Harvey in hopes of a bounce-back. Even with Harvey coming off a horrific season, the Mets never seriously considered non-tendering him despite a projected salary of $6 million in his final year of arbitration.

Profar, 24, has missed two seasons with shoulder trouble. He hit .172 in 22 games for the Rangers last season, which he spent mostly in the minors. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has said Profar doesn’t have a set role next season. He also is out of minor-league options, increasing speculation that he’s on the trading block.

But Profar is under team control through 2020 and Harvey is a free agent after 2018, making a match problematic.

Brach, 31, was linked to the Mets at last year’s winter meetings, when he was coming off an All-Star campaign. The righty posted a 3.18 ERA in 67 games in 2017.

According to a source, teams have shown a varying degree of interest in the Mets’ other starting pitchers, a group that includes Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Steven Matz.

With a depleted farm system, dealing a starting pitcher might be the Mets’ most viable path to swinging a deal. Alderson generally has been wary of dealing from that stock. However, a source said the Mets have discussed trading a pitcher and then pursuing a starter via free agency.

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