The Cubs have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran right-handed reliever Shane Greene, per the transaction log at MLB.com. The Ballengee Group client been assigned to Cubs’ affiliate in the Arizona Complex League for now, presumably to build up before joining the their Triple-A club in Iowa; Greene has yet to pitch for any team this season.
Greene, 34, had a strong run as a setup man and closer from 2017-20 between the Tigers and Braves. In 221 1/3 innings during that four-year peak, he posted a 3.25 ERA with a 24.2% strikeout rate, 8.6% walk rate, 33 holds and 64 saves. All but one of those saves came with Detroit. Atlanta acquired Greene at the 2019 trade deadline — sending lefty Joey Wentz and outfielder Travis Demeritte to the Tigers in return — but deployed him primarily as a setup man following the swap.
Following the trade, Greene posted a serviceable 4.01 ERA down the stretch for them in ’19 and went on to enjoy a solid 2020 campaign with Atlanta. However, that marks the most recent bit of MLB success for the right-hander. Greene was a late signee in May 2021, ultimately returning to the Braves only to see his results crater. He was torched for 16 runs in 17 innings to begin his ’21 season (8.47 ERA), and things were only marginally better in a brief nine-game cup of coffee with the Dodgers after being released in Atlanta.
Greene saw brief looks with the Dodgers and Yankees in 2022 but only pitched a total of three MLB innings. Overall, since the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, he has just 29 2/3 innings with a dismal 7.09 ERA to show for it. His sinker, which averaged 95 mph during his best year with the Tigers, averaged just 92.6 mph in 2021 and sat at 91.3 mph during last year’s tiny sample of big league work.
Swift decline notwithstanding, Greene represents a no-risk flier for a Cubs team that regularly rolls the dice on veteran rebound candidates in the bullpen. It hasn’t always worked in their favor, of course, but the Cubs have netted strong returns on minimal investments for names like Andrew Chafin, David Robertson, Ryan Tepera, Mychal Givens and Mark Leiter Jr. (among others) in sticking to this approach in recent years. They’ll hope to add Greene’s name to that list of successes in the coming months.