CINCINNATI — The Mets solved their Matt Harvey problem and part of their catching problem with one trade Tuesday.
They sent Harvey to the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash in a deal announced less than an hour before the teams played at Great American Ball Park.
Mesoraco was slated to play against the Mets, hitting seventh for Cincinnati. Instead, he switched clubhouses and watched the game from the visitors’ dugout, pinch-hitting and striking out in the ninth. After battling injuries for years, he’ll be a part-timer behind the plate for the Mets.
“Everything we hear, he’s healthy,” said J.P. Ricciardi, a Mets special assistant to the GM. “He feels as healthy as he has in the last few years. That’s a good sign.”
The trade completes Harvey’s sudden exit from the Mets organization. The team designated him for assignment Saturday after eight largely ineffective appearances — four in the rotation, four out of the bullpen — this season and had been looking for a trade partner in recent days.
The Mets and Reds had preliminary discussions about Harvey before he was designated, Cincinnati GM Dick Williams said. Those talks picked up after the Mets cut him.
With the Reds, Harvey will try to re-establish himself as a legitimate major-league pitcher, a status he lost in recent years following his bout with thoracic outlet syndrome. Since returning to his All-Star form in 2015, his first season back from Tommy John surgery, Harvey has a 5.93 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in three injury-plagued seasons.
Williams said Harvey’s new team views him as a starter. During their research on the righthanded former ace, the Reds decided Harvey’s stuff — including his velocity and changeup — was still good.
“It may be more of a pitch mix and approach (change) than a big mechanical change,” Williams said.
Mesoraco, meanwhile, is a candidate to help fill the Mets’ most obvious need. They have received minimal offensive contributions from veteran journeyman Jose Lobaton and Double-A call-up Tomas Nido since last month when they lost Travis d’Arnaud (torn UCL) for the year and Kevin Plawecki (fractured left hand) for several weeks.
An All-Star in 2014, Mesoraco, 29, has not hit or even played consistently since then, instead becoming acquainted with the New York-based Hospital for Special Surgery, a Mets partner. Mesoraco had two operations at HSS, one on his left hip (June 2015) and one on his right hip (July 2016), which sandwiched a surgery on his left shoulder in May 2016.
Mesoraco was on the disabled list last year with a left shoulder strain and broken right foot. In 113 games from 2015-18, Mesoraco has a .195/.291/.318 slash line with seven homers and 20 RBIs.
“We get a veteran guy, a guy who when healthy has played really well,” Ricciardi said. “So I think that brings a little more consistency to the position. Since we lost (Plawecki and d’Arnaud), we’ve lacked a little of that, so I think he’ll help us in that area.”
The Mets will not see Harvey this series, which concludes with a day game Wednesday. Harvey will join the Reds in Los Angeles during their series that starts Thursday. He has been working out there and threw 60 pitches Tuesday as he starts to stretch back out, Williams said. The Reds visit Citi Field for a three-game series in early August.
This trade will not affect the Mets’ payroll. Multiple reports said the Reds will pay the remainder of the $13.125 million owed to Mesoraco this season, while the Mets will pay the rest of the $5.625 million owed to Harvey.
To make room for Mesoraco on the 25- and 40-man rosters, respectively, the Mets put Todd Frazier (left hamstring strain) on the 10-day disabled list and Anthony Swarzak (left oblique strain) on the 60-day DL.