Matt Harvey – The Keeper League Strategy

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all had to think that this was the inevitable result, but word came late last week that Matt Harvey would undergo Tommy John surgery. This virtually ends his 2014 season before it starts (though we can’t completely rule out a few September appearances, no matter how unlikely it is).

One of the elite pitchers in the game, fantasy owners are now faced with an interesting decision on him for the coming season. Obviously league rules will help dictate your strategy, but here’s a general guideline:

Redraft Formats
This is the easiest decision. The chances of him pitching in 2014 are minimal and, even if he does, it’s going to be a minimal impact at best. Ignore him this season and wait until 2015.

Short-Term Keeper Leagues
It really is going to depend on your system and his keeper value. If you have room on your bench to stash him at a low cost (say a couple of dollars) or low round value, he could be worth stashing away for 2015. Chances are, however, if we are looking at short-term, meaning only 2 or 3 years, the benefit likely won’t be there.  Unless you have an extremely deep bench it may be tough to justify.

Long-Term Keeper Leagues – Win Now Mode
Harvey may be out, but we all know that pitchers can now come back stronger from Tommy John surgery. If you are in a position to win now, he is going to be the perfect chip to try and help get you over the hump.

Obviously it doesn’t make sense to keep a player that isn’t going to help you, so try peddling him to a rebuilding franchise who is willing to pay a premium for help in the future.   You should be able to get a few pieces to help you in 2014, or potentially one top player.

Trading a pitcher of Harvey’s caliber is difficult, but in this case it’s a necessary evil to help put you in position to win.

Long-Term Keeper Leagues – Rebuilding Mode
Obviously, being able to get a Top 10 pitcher for the future at a fraction of his worth is appealing. If you don’t think you are going to win in 2014 anyways, making the move to get a future centerpiece makes sense.

However, there could be two schools of thought if you are a rebuilding team that already has Harvey on the roster:

  1. Hold onto him as a future ace
  2. Trade him to another rebuilding owner for several chips

The latter will take more work but if you can flip Harvey for two to three high level pieces, which you can either use yourself or trade off for more assets, it could make sense. It doesn’t even need to be solely long-term pieces, either. If you can trade him for a few players that you can then flip to contenders, you could end up in a better spot and accelerate your rebuilding effort.

Like we said, the strategy you take depends on numerous factors and has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Are you a Harvey owner? What are your plans for him this offseason and why?


  1. Grant says:

    Our keeper format is a bit different than most. Each year we keep 3 players, usually 2 hitters and a pitcher. I have Harvey and I am debating to keep him or not. My other choices would be Sheilds, Bailey, Gray and Ryu. Any other pitcher on my roster was a stream at the end that wasn’t worth anything anyway.

  2. Marky Mark says:

    What I end up doing with Harvey depends largely on what I do with everyone else….

    12 teams, standard 5×5, LF/CF/RF instead of OF, must keep 10. We keep players forever with no penalty or restriction, so it’s very much a long-term outlook here.

    My keepers coming into the season were —
    Pujols, Pedrioa, Wright, Braun, Kemp, J.Upton, Ellsbury, Kershaw, Wainwright, and Hamels.

    Obviously, I had expectations that were not accomplished.

    I took Harvey with my first round pick, and I picked up Bogaerts and George Springer up during the season.

    Those are the 13 players that I’m either going to keep or use as chips in deals, or simply throw back into the draft next year.

    Aside from Kershaw, I’m pretty open-minded about all of them….but that man is gonna be on my roster for a good long while.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Grant – How long can you keep the pitcher for, indefinitely?

    Marky Mark – Agteed, and the idea of having a Kershaw/Harvey/Wainwright trio for the next few seasons has got to be significantly appealing. How deep of a bench do you have, though? You are obviously in position to go for the gold, so giving up the roster spot could be tough to justify.

    • Grant says:

      Yeah you can keep a player as long as you want until he starts to suck

    • Marky Mark says:

      C,1B,2B,3B,SS,LF,CF,RF,UTIL on offense…3 each of SP, RP, and P spots for pitching…25 man rosters, so 7 bench spots, and 3 DL slots. I can certainly find room for Harvey if I decide to keep him.

      All season long, the thought of having Kershaw and Harvey on my roster when they are in their 30’s would just randomly pop in my head. It’s a nice thought.

  4. Mike says:

    I play in a 16 team Dynasty H2H league with a $280 salary cap where I got Harvey in our auction this year for $11 and signed him to a 5 year cintract. 10% increase in salary each season.

    My plan is to dangle him for the right deal but ultimately I envision biting the bullet for 2014 and holding him for 2015 and beyond.

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