We continue our series where we break down the free-agent class at your request and a random spin of the wheel. Today, the wheel has presented us with right-handed reliever Shane Greene. Is he a fit? Let’s discuss.
The Seattle Mariners are going to spend some money on the relief market this off-season. GM Jerry Dipoto has already said as much and it makes all the sense in the world. Dipoto has specifically used phrases like “older” and “experience in the back end” to describe the type of arms he wants to go after this off-season. The goal is to raise the floor and compete for a playoff spot in 2021. That also means that he needs to find the right arms to help his young bullpen do just that.
Veteran right-handed pitcher Shane Greene can certainly do that. The former New York Yankee starter turned Detroit Tigers closer, turned Atlanta Braves set up man has more than enough experience to fill one of the spots in the bullpen. In 313 career appearances, he has finished 132 games on his way to collecting 66 career saves. There aren’t many pitchers on the market this year with more experience than that.
But just finishing games doesn’t make you a good candidate for the Mariners bullpen. You also need to produce and if raising the floor is the goal, it would help if that production was fairly consistent. While consistency and relievers often do go hand in hand, Greene has actually remained quite steady the past four seasons, posting sub-4.00 FIPs, sub-1.25 WHIPS, and over a strikeout per inning in three of those seasons.
This includes rock solid 2019-2020 seasons. In 2019, he made the All-Star team and finished the year with a 2.30 ERA, a 3.79 FIP, a 1.005 WHIP, and 64 strikeouts in 62.2 innings pitched. He followed that up with a solid 2020, posting a 2.60 ERA and a 3.81 FIP. But the strikeouts dipped by 30% and his walk rate jumped slightly so there are some worrisome spots in Greene’s resume.
A four pitch pitcher, Green primarily uses his sinker and cutter, but does use his slider 21% of the time. The cutter is his best pitch, something the Mariners are sure to like, and his velocity has maintained the past few years. At 32-years-old, Greene may be getting ready to slow down and his whiff percentage dropped by 6-8 percent on nearly all of his pitches in 2020.
Greene was able to remain productive, but the underlying numbers do point to some loss of either raw stuff or control in 2020. Greene also has some rather interesting career splits versus left-handed batters. In his career, Greene has held right-handed bats to a .222/.289/.347 triple slash. However, lefties are hitting .286/.362/.458 against Greene.
Overall, Greene is a solid setup option who could close out games in the Mariners inexperienced bullpen. He may be looking for a multi-year deal which can be tricky with the decline in whiff rates. But he certainly should be on the radar for the Mariners and at face value of Dipoto’s comments, he certainly checks a lot of boxes.