Despite producing outstanding work between 2019 and 2020, Greene spent the entire offseason as a free agent. That was unexpected, but it might be explained by the right-lower hander’s run prevention figures and peripherals. Between those two seasons, Greene pitched to a 2.39 ERA in 90 1/3 innings, albeit with a slightly below-average 23.5 percent strikeout rate.
Shane Greene has been signed to a major league contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers
When looking at just 2020, the disparity is even more pronounced: his ERA remained at 2.60, but his strikeout percentage dropped to 19.3 percent. Despite his success in keeping runs off the board, teams appeared hesitant to invest in Greene as a high-end late-inning alternative. Regardless of which statistic is used to evaluate pitcher performance, the 2021 season has been a failure. Atlanta signed Greene to a big league contract in May, and he was called up in early June after a few weeks in Triple-A to improve his arm strength. For the Braves, he pitched seventeen innings but was charged with sixteen runs (an 8.47 ERA) on 22 hits, including five home runs.
Greene’s strikeout rate of 20.5 percent and walk rate of 10.8 percent are similar to last season’s numbers, but his groundball rate has dropped to a career-low 30.4 percent, and he’s allowed far too much hard contact. Clearly, the Dodgers believe that Greene’s ineffectiveness in 2021 hasn’t been reflected in his numbers thus far. It’s a short amount of time for a pitcher who had a multi-year winning streak prior to this season. Because of his lengthy stay in free agency, Greene did not have an usual offseason ramp-up time. Most notably, between 2020 and 2021, his sinker and cutter have nearly similar velocity and spin.
Greene could be set for a comeback under a fresh coaching staff and environment in Los Angeles, with his raw talent still intact. Taking that gamble carries no financial risk for the Dodgers. The Braves will be responsible for the majority of Greene’s prorated $1.5MM salary, with the Dodgers only paying him the prorated league minimum for the remainder of the season (which will be deducted from Atlanta’s payroll). At the end of the season, the 32-year-old will return to the free market.
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