Our trade deadline coverage continues today with yet another look at a pitcher that the Yankees could target. It has been over five years since the Bombers packaged Shane Greene as part of a three-team deal. The trade sent Greene to Detroit, Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba to Arizona, and resulted in the Yankees landing shortstop Didi Gregorius. I think it’s safe to say that Brian Cashman would make that trade again ten out of ten times.
The right-hander largely struggled during his time with the Tigers. In 2015, Greene posted an ugly 6.88 ERA (5.14 FIP) through 83.2 innings. The following year, he transitioned to the bullpen, where he was arguably more effective. Since then, he has teetered back and forth between dominant and mediocre. He took over as the Tigers’ closer last year and notched 32 saves despite a 1.71 HR/9 rate and 1.37 WHIP. The fact that he remained closer seems to have been due to a lack of better options, considering it was a -0.5 WAR year for him.
In spite of all of that, Greene turned it around in 2019. He has actually been one of the best closers in baseball, and even made a trip to Cleveland for his first All-Star Game. Remarkably, he has only been charged with four earned runs through 34 innings. That’s good for a 1.06 ERA. One area of improvement has been his ground-ball percentage. It currently sits at 53.4%, which is the highest of his career, and up from last year’s career low rate of 40.7%.
On the other hand, his .179 BABIP is worrisome and regression could hit hard at any moment. After all, he has averaged a 91 ERA+ during his five years with Detroit, and definitely isn’t as good as he has been this season. If he can keep it up for the rest of the season, though, he could make the bullpen even better. Obviously he wouldn’t take the closer role away from Aroldis Chapman, but could be used in an Adam Ottavino-type role.
The 30-year-old doesn’t hit free agency until 2021, so he would be more than just a short-term rental. The Tigers are currently battling with the Royals for last place in their division, and will certainly be motivated to move him. Depending on the Yankees’ deadline strategy, if they decide that Matthew Boyd is too expensive, they could reach a middle ground by settling for Greene instead. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to strengthen the bullpen down the stretch.
What do you think about the idea of a Yankees reunion with Shane Greene? Let us know in the comments.