UNC in MLB: Pair of former Tar Heels looking for fresh start

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Matt Harvey
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Matt Harvey /
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Two former Tar Heels heading in different directions enter the Winter Meetings looking for a fresh start

For MLB fans, Christmas comes a little early. The Winter Meetings kicked off on Sunday night, which is the biggest gathering of all the front office executives in baseball. But there are two former Tar Heels who have gone in different directions over the last couple of seasons, and now find themselves looking for a fresh start.

If you follow North Carolina baseball, or MLB baseball, Matt Harvey is almost a household name. In 2015, Harvey helped pitch the New York Mets into the World Series.

HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 02: Matt Harvey
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 02: Matt Harvey /

He also finished in the top-5 of Cy Young voting in 2013 before having Tommy John surgery in 2014. But since 2015, Harvey has been in a tailspin. He has not been the same pitcher, going 9-17 with an ERA above 5.0 in those two seasons.

Many have chalked it up to injuries, but it can also be attributed to needing a change of scenery.

Once dubbed “The Dark Knight”, a nickname he got from pitching in “Gotham City”, his shine has worn off. Harvey has not been the same pitcher, and the New York media has not been kind to him.

It’s easy to pile on to a once great pitcher who has most recently been a shell of himself.

But at the Winter Meetings, a time when executives make deals to better their team, Matt Harvey has been the center of trade talks.

One of the teams most interested in Harvey’s services is the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are in desperate need of good pitching after losing their ace in Yu Darvish, and see Matt Harvey as a low-risk, high-reward player.

Many believe a deal to move Harvey could be imminent, which would be great for him. Giving Harvey a change of scenery could be all he needs to revive his career.

Chris Iannetta seeing a career resurgence

On the other end of the spectrum of Matt Harvey is Chris Iannetta.

Iannetta, a former catcher for the Diamond Heels, is coming off of his best statistical season in nearly a decade. Iannetta slashed .254/.354/.511 this year for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But Iannetta was not the full-time catcher. He split time with Jeff Mathis behind the plate in Arizona.

But on Friday, Ken Rosenthal reported that Iannetta signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies, the team who he started his career with.

It was reported that Iannetta is prepared to catch 100 games for the Rockies, who were without a starting catcher after Jonathan Lucroy opted for free agency.

It’s not often to see MLB players become late bloomers, but Iannetta has the perfect opportunity to do that. The Rockies were a playoff team a year ago, and are hoping to return again.

After these developments between Harvey and Iannetta, it is clear that these two are heading in opposite directions. But it is not too late for Harvey to right the ship.

Iannetta, formerly a platoon catcher, put together one of the best seasons of his career, and parlayed that into a new contract. That’s not out of the realm of possibility for Harvey.

Harvey will be a free agent after the 2018 season, which means if he can go to a new team, and show flashes of what he used to be, he could be in line for a nice contract.

While there are differences between Harvey and Iannetta, their situations are a little similar. Harvey should take a page out of Iannetta’s playbook, and revamp his career with a really strong 2018 season.

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The new season is quickly approaching, so stick with Keeping It Heel for all updates on Tar Heels in MLB this offseason.