The Tigers are rebuilding as the Braves have tried to build a bullpen on the fly all season long. The match between the two teams is an easy one to make, and Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Tigers are close to trading away closer Shane Greene to the Braves. Robert Murray has added the return for the Tigers. Here’s the deal:
- RHP Shane Greene
A season ago, Greene racked up 32 saves for the Tigers, but he generally wasn’t a very good reliever. His ground-ball rate at 40% was lower than in previous seasons, and too many fly balls meant too many homers and a 4.61 FIP and an ERA over 5. This season, Greene was able to get back to his ground-balling ways with a sinker/cutter/slider arsenal, and he’s been a pretty good pitcher as a result. Looking at Greene’s ERA might lead one to believe he is a great pitcher, but the underlying numbers don’t completely support that greatness.
Greene has a 1.18 ERA, which is certainly really good. Only Kirby Yates‘ 1.02 mark bests Greene among relievers this season. Expecting Greene to continue to post a 1.18 ERA is folly. He has struck out 29% of batters, which is good, while walking 8% of batters, which is roughly average. His ground-ball rate on the season is 54%, and that’s going to keep the ball in the park and limit damage, but those things alone aren’t enough to take a 3.80 FIP, which is about 20% better than average in these heightened run environments, and move it to a 1.18 ERA.
Greene’s BABIP is .181 and his left-on-base rate is 85%, and neither number is sustainable going forward. He’s also given up six runs on the season which weren’t earned, more than double his total of five earned runs. This isn’t to say Greene isn’t good, but it is enough to say Greene isn’t great. Over at Statcast, his xwOBA is a solid .282, but his actual wOBA is about 60 points lower. Greene is a solid addition to the Braves pen, and 15 years ago, the ERA and saves might have netted the Tigers a top-50 prospect. Today, Greene is another solid reliever among many available at the trade deadline. The Braves are likely to pay a premium for that need, but their top prospects were always going to be off limits.
The Tigers don’t come away empty-handed. Wentz is the better prospect of the two. Eric Longenhagen went looking for some Clayton Kershaw-type characteristics in the minors in thie post, and Wentz’s name popped up. Before the season, Longenhagen and McDaniel put a 45+ on Wentz and had this to say:
Wentz has flashed three plus pitches at times, but has never done it all in the same outing. Some thought he was on the verge of doing so in 2018, but he missed huge chunks of the year with oblique and shoulder ailments, though they seem minor to us in terms of their long-term effects. Wentz was 88-92 mph with solid average stuff and average command in 2018, and projects to improve when he has a full, healthy offseason to regain what he was the year before. He is also big and athletic with a smooth delivery and arm action, so there’s the classic projection you’re looking for. Like Muller, Wentz also has 70-grade raw power to provide offensive value when he reaches the big leagues. At its best, Wentz’s fastball was 92-95, hitting 96 mph, and his curveball and changeup were plus, with multi-innings stretches when his command looked above average, which led some scouts to invoke Cole Hamels. Things probably land somewhere between the peak of each of his elements and his average 2018 showing.
This season, he’s slid back a little bit on his promotion to Double-A, but he’s only 21 years old and holding his own. As for Demeritte, the prospect report at the beginning of the season noted he “still has easy plus power and is passable at multiple positions defensively, but he will need to make some offensive adjustments to have a big league future.” Demeritte has hit for power in Triple-A this season with 20 homers along with a good walk rate, though he’s also struck out 27% of the time.
The Braves get the reliever they need and part with some of their prospect depth while the Tigers get a solid prospect and a big bat who might not ever get that power to the big leagues. The return might not look outstanding for the Tigers, but they did well for a reliever, particularly one who had trouble getting outs just a season ago.
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.