The Tigers needed another starting pitcher for 2015 and Dave Dombrowski found him in Dave Dombrowski fashion. He didn’t back up the money truck, he picked him out of the bottom of someone else’s depth chart for a pair of players that probably won’t end up biting the club in the future. Shane Greene is a Tiger, Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba are Dbacks, and Did Gregorius will replace Jeter in New York. The Tigers, Yankees, and Snakes just love these December three team deals.
For the Tigers, this move makes all kinds of sense. They needed a fifth starter for 2015 and aren’t in a great position to spend big on someone like Scherzer or Lester, and even smaller deals might prevent them from acquiring an outfielder or relief help. Shane Greene isn’t a sexy name or a flashy guy, but he’s only 93 days into his MLB career and if it turns out that he’s as good as his 2014 numbers, the next six seasons will wind up being a steal
There’s plenty of reason to doubt Greene, however. He never shined in the minor leagues and looked destined to serve as some kind of bullpen depth or number six starter, and didn’t debut until he was 25. He’s a sinker-slider guy with a platoon split but he’s got some velocity and put a hurting on the Tigers twice last season.
Steamer’s early projections think he’ll fade back toward his minor league numbers and be something like a 1 WAR starter in 130 innings. His pro-rated numbers from 2014 amount to a 3 WAR starter over 200. The big change last year was an increase in his strikeout rate over about 80 innings. That’s not something you bet your life on, but strikeout rate is more stable than something like ERA, and you can glean a little more information in fewer innings.
Greene has the makings of a fine back end starting pitcher and he showed a little more in 2014. That’s a nice player to pick up, considering he has 6 years of team control left and likely 3 at league minimum prices. He’s better than Robbie Ray today and probably will be better for most of the next six seasons. The Tigers also lost Leyba in the deal, which isn’t nothing, but it’s not worth crying about. He’s 19, a second baseman, and will need to hit to carry himself into the show. He’s a prospect, but he’s not even a top ten guy in the Tigers system by most accounts.
The Tigers turned a future reliever and likely utility player into someone who might wind up being an average major league starting pitcher with plenty of team control. It might not end up working out, but this looks to be a terrific move by the Tigers to get better without getting more expensive. Losing Fister for Ray was rough, but getting value back by sending Ray west helps stem the tide.
Look for a full breakdown of Greene in a day or two.