For the 10th time this season, Shane Greene slammed the door for the save in a 4-3 victory for the Detroit Tigers over the White Sox on Easter Sunday.
Shane Greene has been essentially automatic this season, with a flawless save percentage and only two earned runs to boot. Given the stellar performance of the Tigers ninth-inning man so far in 2019, the question must be asked, is Greene more valuable as a trade chip? Or as a building block in the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen?
Greene has been no doubt the best closer in the American League on the early season, leading the league with his 10 saves, three ahead of Houston Astros closer Roberto Ozuna. San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates is tied with Greene for the major-league lead, though his ERA sits lower than Greene’s at 0.75.
A former starting pitcher, Greene features three primary pitches, a devastating slider, cutter, and swing-and-miss changeup. His stuff can be featured in any late-inning situation, which raises the question, where does the 30-year-old’s trade value best lie?
A Similar Situation
Parallels can be drawn between the situation the Tigers now find themselves in, and one that the aforementioned Padres occupied at this time last season. Two teams firmly entrenched in a full-scale rebuild, both of which have a well above-average closer.
For the Padres this reliever was All-Star Brad Hand, who amassed 21 saves to go along with a minuscule 2.16 ERA in 2017. The Padres would toy with the idea of trading their coveted closer, eventually opting to ship the left-hander to the Cleveland Indians at the 2018 deadline in exchange for Cleveland’s No. 1 prospect, catcher Fransisco Mejia.
Kirby Yates, who was also mentioned earlier, shifted from his eighth-inning role to closer, picking up 12 saves in 2018. All in all, the Padres were able to acquire an elite-level prospect in Mejia, while still maintaining Hand’s production in the ninth inning.
What Should the Tigers Do?
Greene was considered to be one of the Tigers’ top trade prospects headed into the 2018 season, but his 5.12 ERA and six blown saves would cool the hot stove. As the current season continues to move along, Greene has fully rebuilt his trade value and more.
If the Tigers were to dangle their prized right-hander, a number of suitors would undoubtedly emerge for his services. Late-inning relievers have been at a premium during the past few trade deadline periods, and with many notable contenders desperately in need of a closer or back-end arm, this deadline will be no exception.
Some of these teams may include the closer-less Boston Red Sox, or potentially the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, or Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Tigers would be able to secure a return of equal value, or even more if they were to part with Greene. The team would also have an immediate replacement for Greene in young flamethrower Joe Jimenez.
Even though the 24-year-old Jimenez has struggled with results and confidence so far in 2019, the former All-Star has the stuff and makeup for a ninth-inning role, and many have considered him the Tigers closer of the future.
Some may argue that Greene’s current value is best utilized if he remains in the back end of the Tigers bullpen for years to come, as the team has gone through a number of closers since the days of Jose Valverde and has had nowhere close to a consistently above-average bullpen.
No matter if Detroit decides to trade or retain their electric closer, one thing’s for sure. Greene has fully rebuilt his value and firmly put himself back in a position where we can as this question.
What do you think the Tigers should do with Shane Greene? Feel free to let us know in the comments section down below.