Last night, Shane Greene was responsible for the Braves meltdown to the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning, allowing four runs on three hits in just two-thirds of an inning. The outing pushed his ERA this Spring to a gaudy 16.87 in three appearances (2.2 innings) in which he’s surrendered six hits and two walks, resulting in five earned runs.
In a piece I did in early November, where I evaluated all the Braves’ deadline deals following the end of the season, the trade for Greene was the one I graded the highest, giving it a B. I gave the move for Chris Martin a C because former first-round pick, Kolby Allard, thrived in Texas as he saw an uptick in his velocity. Trading him for a one-year rental like Martin seemed like quite a hefty price to pay. And I gave the deal for Mark Melancon a C- because Atlanta is scheduled to pay him $14 million this season, which is a ton for a reliever that isn’t a shutdown closer, especially considering the Braves’ financial restraints.
While I don’t regret the subpar grades I gave the Martin or Melancon acquisitions, I have to admit I may have been a bit too ambitious in regards to Greene. The Braves traded Joey Wentz and Travis Demeritte for his services, which is beginning to look worse and worse by the day. Demeritte wasn’t much of a loss, considering he was never going to have a place to play in Atlanta, but moving Wentz could be looked at with a lot of regret in the near future.
The 6’5″ right-hander dominated in 2017 and 2018, cruising his way up prospect charts everywhere. In Rome, he posted a 2.60 ERA in 26 starts, followed by an even better 2018 with the Florida Fire Frogs in which he recorded 2.28 ERA in 16 starts. 2019 was a little rocky for him as a member of the Braves organization as he struggled to the tune of a 4.98 ERA in Mississippi over 20 outings. Perhaps that’s why Anthopoulos didn’t have a problem moving him for an All-Star closer, but Wentz bounced back once he joined the Tigers organization, posting a 2.10 ERA in his last five starts of the season. Losing that kind of potential stings, especially when Greene has looked like anything but an All-Star caliber reliever since joining the Braves.
The reality of the situation — and everyone knew this about Greene prior to the trade deadline — is that he was a beneficiary of a lot of luck in his final half-season with the Tigers and was always going to be in store for some severe regression at some point. Despite recording a minuscule 1.18 ERA and 22 saves in 38 appearances for Detroit, his FIP sat at 3.79, and he was just a year removed from a 5.12 ERA in 68 opportunities. The Braves saw that version of Greene over the final few months, as he finished the season with a 4.01 ERA in Atlanta. And now, he’s looking even worse early on in Spring Training.
I realize overreacting to the first few appearances in meaningless exhibition games is a fool’s move, but we’ve gotten to the point where acting like Shane Greene is going to be a closer — or even a reliable set-up man for that matter — is equally as foolish. He’s nothing more than a super volatile reliever, as can be seen by his career 4.50 ERA and 4.09 FIP in six seasons. Thankfully, the Braves have a stacked bullpen and won’t have to rely on Greene in high-leverage situations, but giving up a quality prospect like Joey Wentz for him was not one of Anthopoulos’ finest moments.