Ever since making his MLB debut for the Yankees in 2016, Chad Green has ranged somewhere between good and great as a reliever for the team. Acquired from the Tigers in a December 2015 trade for Justin Wilson, Green made his debut as a starter, but by the next year, he was put in the bullpen, where he quickly developed into an important, multi-inning option in 2017.
While Green had some years and moments better than others, he has spent the past seven seasons as a reliable option for the Yankees. For his career, he’s put up a 3.17 ERA, a 137 ERA+, and a 3.29 FIP. However, the seventh of those years had an early end. In May, he left a game after experiencing discomfort in his right pitching arm. A couple days later, the worst fears were realized as it was confirmed that Green would require Tommy John surgery. That ended his 2022 season, and quite possibly his Yankees career.
With the conclusion of the ‘22 season, Green became a free agent. Even with injury rehab still ahead, should the Yankees bring him back?
The first thing to keep in mind about any potential deal for Green is that it almost certainly would be for two years. While he got injured and had his Tommy John surgery early enough in 2022 that he could be back at some point in ‘23, that’s not a given. It would be a bit pointless to sign Green for one year, rehab him with the hope that maybe he could play at some point in the season, and then see him go somewhere else when that contract is up.
Any deal will probably be a two-year deal, similar to what happened with fellow former Yankee reliever Tommy Kahnle. In July 2020, Kahnle also had his walk season ended after undergoing Tommy John. In his ensuing free agency, he signed a two-year contract with the Dodgers, spending 2021 rehabbing before returning this season. Yes, different pitchers, different timelines, different situation and all, but something similar to the two-year, $5.25 million contract that Kahnle received seems like a good parallel for Green this year. With the risk, it’s hard to see anyone going too far above that dollars- or years-wise.
That’s the main catch, though: the risk. Tommy John is far from a death sentence for a pitcher, but it’s understandable to be wary of a pitcher coming off UCL repair. That’s especially true of relievers, since relief pitching can already be volatile from year to year as it is.
If the Yankees sign Green to a two-year deal and everything goes well, then you get maybe a solid reliever for the end of the 2023 season and a good one in 2024. At that point, you’ve probably got a pretty good bargain on whatever deal he gets for someone who is a pretty good reliever with experience. If it doesn’t work out, then you’ve probably just spent two years, a low-but-nonzero monetary amount, and possibly roster spots on a guy who was always a risk.
Beyond that, while his numbers for the season still ended up pretty good, Green did have some very frustrating moments in his last full season in 2021. He ended up getting dinged with six blown saves over the course of the year, a figure which doesn’t even include the July game in Houston where he came in with a 7-2 lead and eventually allowed a walk-off in an 8-7 loss. He’s allowed a decent amount hard contact even in his best years, and it’s not like his peripherals have taken some sort of massive drop since his peak.
The Yankees have had success over the years in developing and getting bullpen production from players under team control, and that includes Chad Green. Considering how much is unknown of what Green will be going forward, it’s feels a bit unlikely that the Yankees would make a deal for him. On the other hand, it’s not exactly going to be a pricey one, so we’ll see.