Matt Harvey, a veteran pitcher on a minor-league contract with the Baltimore Orioles, was suspended for 60 games by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for distributing a prohibited drug of abuse.
Harvey, who was once the ace of a Mets starting rotation that led the team to the 2015 World Series, openly discussed his drug use during the trial of Eric Kay, a former Los Angeles Angels employee who was found guilty on two charges over his role in the death of Tyler Skaggs, a pitcher on the team. Skaggs, a teammate of Harvey’s on the Angels in 2019, was found dead at age 27 in a hotel room in Texas after overdosing on a mixture of drugs, including fentanyl.
During Kay’s trial, in which Harvey and several former teammates were candid about drug use among Angels players, Harvey, 33, said cocaine was his drug of choice but that he began using Percocet, an opioid, during the 2019 season. He said he shared some of the Percocet with Skaggs. Federal prosecutors said Skaggs was killed by fentanyl provided to him by Kay, not the Percocet given to him by Harvey, who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.
Kay’s lawyers, who contended the drugs provided by Harvey could have been what killed Skaggs, asked Harvey if he had ever asked his teammate to be careful with his drug use.
“Looking back, I wish I had,” Harvey said. “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.”
In M.L.B.’s announcement of Harvey’s punishment, the league stated Harvey had violated the terms of the joint drug prevention and treatment program by distributing a drug of abuse and that the suspension was retroactive to April 29. Under the terms of his contract with Baltimore, Harvey would receive $1 million this season if he makes the team’s 40-man roster. He has not pitched in any games, major or minor league, this season.
In February, a jury in Fort Worth found Kay, a former communications director for the Angels, guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury. He faces between 20 years and life in prison and is expected to be sentenced on June 28.