Before and even during the Major League Baseball lockout, there was speculation that the Orioles might re-sign right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey. The 32-year-old led the Orioles in starts last season with 28, compiling a 6-14 record and a 6.27 ERA.
That possibility ended after Harvey’s testimony in the trial of Eric Kay, which concluded on Thursday. Kay, a onetime director of communications for the Los Angeles Angels, was found guilty in the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Kay was convicted of supplying Fentanyl to Skaggs, who died on July 1st 2019 in a Texas hotel room. He faces a minimum of 20 years.
Harvey was subpoenaed and granted immunity to testify and outlined a troubling culture of drug use among the Angels and admitted to using cocaine while with the New York Mets and with Los Angeles in 2019.
Harvey acknowledged that he supplied Skaggs with oxycodone and Percocet, which he said he obtained from a hockey player.
According to ESPN, Harvey could face a suspension of between 60 and 90 days if he signs with a major league club for distributing controlled substances.
Harvey signed a minor league contract as spring training began a year ago and brought a troubled reputation to the Orioles. Players and manager Brandon Hyde said he was a good teammate.
During the season, Harvey was self-critical and blunt during Zoom postgame interviews. After his May 12th return to Citi Field, where Harvey allowed seven runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings, a number of Mets reporters who covered him during his years there remarked at how much more serious and thoughtful he seemed.
I never talked with Harvey alone because reporters weren’t allowed in the clubhouse. Once we were allowed on the field and the dugout, I said hello to him a few times when he passed, and he simply nodded back.
Harvey had no choice but to testify. He never made himself available to law-enforcement authorities after Skaggs’ death, and in his testimony said he would have invoked his Fifth Amendment rights had he not been granted immunity.
Nearly three years later, Harvey regrets his behavior and knows he should have warned Skaggs
“Looking back, I wish I had,” Harvey said in his testimony. “In baseball you do everything you can to stay on the field. At the time I felt as a teammate I was just helping him get through whatever he needed to get through.”
Harvey testified that after Skaggs’ death, he threw away his remaining oxycodone tablets.
“I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that anymore, and I was very scared,” Harvey said.
Harvey’s testimony was lauded on a Mets fan site with a large following: @The7Line.
“To all those saying ‘he was granted immunity, he has to be honest’… Matt wouldn’t be the first to lie on the stand. He was even asked about how this might now change his future. Could have held some back. Seems to have been an open book. Good on that.”
This was a disturbing take. Harvey didn’t tell what he knew to law enforcement until he was granted immunity. He acknowledged it might damage his career because he’s intelligent person and because it’s obvious. He shouldn’t be lauded for telling the truth. It’s what we’re supposed to do.
There had been no confirmation that the Orioles were interested in re-signing Harvey for another season. At the end of the 2021 season, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias was asked about Harvey’s possible return.
“I thought he had a really good year for himself—and for us,” Elias said. “His ERA wasn’t sparkling but coming off barely pitching at all last year and the injury issues, he threw [127 2/3] innings. We did not play particularly good defense behind him. Even by our own team’s standards, we were bad behind Matt Harvey and he kept going out there and taking the ball and logging innings and kept us in games.
“He’s in a better position now than he was a year ago at this time last year, and I know he liked it here, and we liked him, so we’ll see,” Elias said. “He’s on the list. He’s going to have opportunities as well.”
If the Orioles were considering Harvey for a minor league deal when the lockout ended, they’ll now look elsewhere.
Harvey had some big moments in his career, starting the 2013 All-Star Game in his home ballpark, pitching in the 2015 World Series. He also had a sharp fall, pitching for six organizations in the last four seasons.
His career presumably has ended. Sadly, his testimony in a tragic case might be the last we hear of him.