Baltimore Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has received a 60-game suspension for distributing drugs three months after testifying that he gave oxycodone to his deceased Los Angeles Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs, who suffered a fatal overdose in 2019.
Harvey also admitted to cocaine use in his February testimony at the trial of Eric Prescott Kay, the former Angels employee who was ultimately convicted of providing Skaggs with the drugs that led to his overdose death. Kay will be sentenced on June 28 for drug distribution resulting in death, and faces anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.
The commissioner’s office announced the ban on Tuesday, stating that Harvey will be suspended without pay for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Harvey, a 33-year-old right-hander, agreed last month to a minor league contract with the Orioles that would have a $1 million salary if he is added to the 40-man roster. He has been working out at Baltimore’s extended spring training facility and has not pitched in any games.
The 60-game ban will be retroactive to April 29.
Skaggs, 27, was found dead July 1, 2019, in a suburban Dallas hotel room after the team had traveled from Los Angeles for a series with the Texas Rangers. A coroner’s report said Skaggs had choked to death on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has received a 60-game suspension for distributing drugs three months after testifying that he gave oxycodone to his deceased Los Angeles Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs, who suffered a fatal overdose in 2019
Skaggs, 27, was found dead July 1, 2019, in a suburban Dallas hotel room after the team had traveled from Los Angeles and before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. A coroner’s report said Skaggs had choked to death on his vomit, and a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone were in his system
Former Los Angeles Angels employee Eric Kay walks out of federal court where he is on trial for federal drug distribution and conspiracy charges, in Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday, February 15, 2022. Kay will be sentenced on June 28 for drug distribution resulting in death, and faces anywhere from 20 years to life in prison
Harvey was among five Major Leaguers who testified that they received oxycodone pills from Kay at various times from 2017-19, the years Kay was accused of obtaining pills and giving them to players. Kay also used drugs himself, according to testimony and court documents. In fact, he was only recently out of opioid rehab in 2019 when he rejoined the club.
Testifying at Kay’s trial in exchange for immunity, Harvey acknowledged being a cocaine user before and during his season with the Angels in 2019. The former New York Mets star said he tried oxycodone provided by Skaggs during his season with the Angels and also provided drugs to Skaggs at various times.
Harvey said he had his own drug supplier on the East Coast, and said he got oxycodone for Skaggs from that supplier.
Kay’s defense asked Harvey if he was aware of the danger of mixing alcohol and oxycodone to which he said he was. Defense attorney Michael Molfetta asked Harvey if he ever asked Skaggs to be careful.
‘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.’
According to Adam Rubin, who previously covered the Mets for ESPN and the New York Daily News, the Mets were well aware of the situation
Members of the Los Angeles Angels place their jerseys with No. 45 in honor of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on the mound after a combined no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game, July 12, 2019
Skaggs’s mother Debbie Hetman testified that her son had been addicted to opioids for years.
As Hetman told the court, Skaggs had battled an addiction to Percocet prior to his elbow surgery in 2014. She said that Skaggs and his stepfather, Daniel Ramos, spoke about his addiction often, according to multiple reports.
Skaggs quit Percocet cold turkey, Hetman said, adding that he was given only a high dose of Tylenol as he recovered from his 2014 procedure.
‘I knew my son loved life,’ Hetman said, tearfully, as reported by The Athletic. ‘He didn’t know there was poison in those pills.
Harvey’s drug problems were reportedly known to the New York Mets, for whom he pitched from 2012 until 2018 while earning an All-Star nod in 2013.
According to Adam Rubin, who previously covered the Mets for ESPN and the New York Daily News, the Mets were well aware of the situation.
‘I’ll say this and then stop,’ Rubin tweeted in February. ‘The Mets told me a looong time ago, before anything like this was public, that they tried to help him, as did his agent. So they weren’t willfully blind to what was going on because they were getting performance.’
When contacted by the New York Post, former Mets manager Terry Collins said he was ‘probably not’ surprised to learn about Harvey’s drug use.
‘There were accusations that were being thrown around the clubhouse, for sure, but I had no proof of it at all,’ Collins told the Post. ‘I can just tell you what guys were saying.’
Carli Skaggs, left, wife of Tyler Skaggs and his mother Debbie Hetman, right, are shown with photos of the Angels pitcher on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a f series against the Texas Rangers. In February, Hetman spoke at the drug distribution and conspiracy trial of former Angels communications director Eric Prescott Kay, who was convicted of giving the pitcher a fatal supply of counterfeit oxycodone laced with fentanyl
Collins recalled one specific incident in which a player suggested to him that Harvey was using drugs.
‘There was a time I addressed an off-the-field issue with one of the other guys on the team and his statement was, ”Well, I’m not doing what Matt Harvey is doing,”’ Collins added. ‘I said, ”This isn’t about Matt Harvey, this is about you.”
‘I tried to get off that subject as fast as I could. Was there knowledge in the clubhouse? Without question.’
Once considered one of the top young pitchers in baseball, Harvey became known as unreliable during his tenure in New York following a missed game in 2017 and several instances of tardiness. He also went missing during the 2015 postseason before the team flew to Los Angeles for a National League Divisional Series.
Collins told the Post that the club made some attempts to address the situation with Harvey without detailing any specific accusations about the pitcher.
‘Was there a time someone said, ”Are you on something,” without naming anything,’ Collins said. ‘That was probably brought up. But pretty much you addressed it as, ”Look, you have got to clean up your off-the-field situation.” That was it.’