2019 Dodgers Trade Deadline Targets: RHP Shane Greene, Tigers

The next trade deadline profile is on Tigers’ reliever Shane Greene, who’s in the midst of a breakout year. While he’d be a boost to the Dodgers in 2019, he’d also be around an extra year, with his contract set to expire after next season.

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Previous entries

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The Detroit Tigers play in arguably the worst division in baseball. At the break, the AL Central has a pair of 50-win teams (Minnesota and Cleveland). The White Sox are hovering around .500, and then there are the Tigers and Royals. Those two teams, combined, have two fewer wins than the Dodgers in 2019. The Tigers have a record of 28-57 and have the second-worst winning percentage in the Majors (shouts to the Orioles). It’s not a fluke, as their -157 run differential is the second-worst in the Majors as well (shouts to the Orioles). Unlike the Royals, the Tigers do have one thing going for them. In March, MLB dot com ranked the Tigers as the organization with the 10th-best farm system in the Majors. Their top-three prospects and six of their top 10 are right handed pitchers, and MLB currently has prospect Casey Mize as the second-ranked prospect in all of baseball. The Dodgers and Tigers couldn’t match up on a trade for Nicholas Castellanos in the offseason, but the Tigers should still have an asset the Dodgers could use for a deep run into October.

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Greene is having a career year. The 30-year-old righty owns a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings, and 29 of his 33 appearances this season have been scoreless. One of them was a bit of a disaster, but didn’t effect his ERA as he allowed five unearned runs. An error began the inning, and Greene should have escaped the inning with a walk and single allowed. Instead of recording the third out, a grounder moved runners to second and third, which let to an intentional walk and a grand slam. 

Other than that, Greene has been close to flawless this season. Each earned run Greene has allowed this season has come on a home run (two solo homers, one two-run homer and the unearned grand slam). He’s faced four or fewer batters in 26 of his 33 outings, meaning he generally doesn’t allow much traffic on the bases. Greene currently owns the best strikeout rate of his career (26 percent) and while his walk rate (7.6 percent) is up a bit from last year, it would still be one of the better marks in the Dodger bullpen. 

Where Greene has really thrived this season, and where there might be a bit of concern, is that he’s avoided giving up hits this season. Opponents own a .158/.229/.275 triple slash line against Greene, boosted by a .183 BABIP. That’s quite the outlier for Greene, who had only had a sub-.300 BABIP in one of his five Major League seasons coming into this year (2017, .265 BABIP). There should be some regression, but Statcast shows Greene with a .211 Expected Batting Average and .382 Expected Slugging Percentage. He’s outperforming his metrics, but not by an unrealistic amount. Still, any team interested in trading for Greene will be aware that he’s been closer to “good” than “elite” this season.

Greene has essentially eliminated line drives, which tend to carry the highest BABIP’s. In the first five years of his career, Greene’s lowest line drive rate was 18.1 percent, which was tied for the 51st-best line drive rate among qualified relievers. This season, Greene is one of two relievers with a sub-10 percent line drive rate (9.3 percent, only higher than Yimi Garcia).

Despite throwing a sinker nearly half the time over the last three seasons, 2019 has been his first year with a ground ball rate of higher than 50 percent since his rookie year. Greene’s sinker had an average launch angle of 8- and 9 degrees in 2018 and 2017, respectively. This season, that’s down to -3. While most of Greene’s pitches have slightly higher exit velocities as last season, his ability to prevent line drives and force balls into the dirt has helped him outperform his already solid metrics. He’s also doing this in front of a defense with a -33 defensive runs saved, the sixth-worst in baseball. It’s scary to think how good he could be in front of the Dodgers and the league-leading 93 DRS. However, he is outperforming his metrics and the Dodgers will likely be wary of this, as this front office has usually been smart about avoiding overpaying.

Cost

Greene is a tricky pitcher to tack down the price of. He hasn’t been as good, historically, as Smith or Vazquez. He’s a righty, so he also doesn’t give the Dodgers the lefty weapon that the other two do. However, unlike Smith, Greene is under contract past this season. He’s making $4 million in 2019, so a trade to the Dodgers would cost under $2 million for the rest of the season. This offseason will be his final year of arbitration, so he likely still won’t be terribly expensive for next season. He shouldn’t cost nearly as much as Smith or Vazquez, but should still cost a couple interesting prospects.

Package 1

To DET: Connor Wong, Jeren Kendall
To LA: Greene

The Tigers have plenty of pitching prospects, so I’d assume they’d prefer to boost the weaker side of their farm, the position players. Wong would give them another solid catching prospect to go along with Jake Rogers, who was MLB Pipeline’s 10th-ranked catching prospect headed into the season. Rogers is seen as a defense-first catcher, but has struggled at the plate since his promotion to Triple-A earlier this season. Like many players in the Dodger organization, Wong has proven the ability to play multiple positions, with 80 innings this year at second or third base. He’s farther away from debuting than Rogers, but the Tigers could be interested in his athleticism. Kendall is an incredible athlete, but questions about his hit tool have impacted his prospect status. He’s struck out 85 times in 212 plate appearances at Rancho this season, and despite having the worse batting average of his pro career (.188), he has the highest OPS of his pro career (.764). 21 of his 33 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including 10 home runs after hitting 12 in 438 plate appearances last season. A future Tigers outfield with Kendall, Daz Cameron and Parker Meadows could be the most athletic outfield in baseball. 

Package 2

To DET: DJ Peters, Robinson Ortiz
To LA: Greene

If the Tigers would prefer a more established offensive outfielder, Peters could be their guy. He’s still quite strikeout prone, but Peters would be the best power-hitting prospect in Detroit and would fill out their outfield rather nicely, likely at a corner spot. The Tigers’ seven best pitching prospects are right-handed, and Ortiz would be one of four left-handed pitching prospects in the Tigers’ Top 30. He’s only 19 and has struggled a bit at Great Lakes, but he’d be a nice lottery ticket for the Tigers to pick up.

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The Dodgers have to improve the bullpen at the trade deadline. There should be a number of elite relievers available. If those fall through, Greene would not be the worst consolation prize in the world. He’s outperforming his metrics a bit, but would be a solid addition to the back-end of the Dodger bullpen. The Detroit Free Press wrote last week about the Dodgers apparently interest in Greene.

Greene also gets it.

About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.