The Detroit Tigers will stumble through the 2018 season with absolute no shot at the postseason. Heck, a record better than last year’s 64-98 mark would be momentous.
And with the recently adopted strategy of shedding payroll, starting from scratch, and forfeiting contention for the next few summers, closer Shane Greene might be the best under-the-radar trade chip the Tigers currently employ.
Greene, 29, compiled 67.2 innings of work with a 2.66 ERA in 2017. He was promoted to the closer’s role after a July 31 trade sent Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs. Since becoming Detroit’s ninth-inning man, Greene saved nine games in 10 opportunities, striking out 23 batters in 21.2 IP.
After an impressive month of August in which he was six-for-six in saves while allowing just three earned runs, Greene’s name was floated around in talks before the end of the month trade deadline. The Detroit baseball bosses decided to hang on to their newly-appointed closer, passing on jumping the gun too early and instead holding out hope for a strong showing in the first half of 2018. By design, the Tigers would dangle their highly-touted, back-end-of-the-‘pen arm to a team looking for the final push in the final two months of the regular season.
And as we’ve seen in recent postseasons, a potent bullpen can make all the difference.
There are plenty of reasons to like Greene. He has a penchant for pitching well late in games and has thrived in the closer’s role. He worked himself into the conversation of a possible promotion early in the 2017 campaign when it was discovered that Francisco Rodriguez overstayed his welcome in the major leagues. Instead, it was Wilson who began closing games for the Tigers in early May. But after Wilson’s departure, Greene shined when his number was called.
Finding a consistent, late-inning arm typically costs a pretty penny, and the Tigers have that in their favor. He is a significantly cheaper alternative, and front offices are hungry for a powerful late-inning addition as summer turns to fall.
The Daytona State product features a wicked arsenal, with several put-away pitches. He typically works with a fastball, slider, and cutter, but he does add a curveball into the mix, throwing it 1.7 percent of the time in 2017. His 9.71 K/9 rate last summer was a career-best, even dating back to his days as a starting pitcher.
While the Tigers undergo major renovations, it would be wise to shop Greene around, but especially toward the trade deadline season. Kudos to general manager Al Avila if he were to trade his closers in back-to-back seasons in return for a handful of highly-touted prospects.
He has the right candidate in Greene to pull off another midsummer deal that would prove beneficial to this Tigers organization. Bill it as music to Avila’s ears if Greene continues to pitch well, especially for a Detroit club that is practically already eliminated from the AL Central race.