The Braves are signing right-handed reliever Shane Greene, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday afternoon.
Greene, 32, initially joined the Braves via trade at the 2019 deadline. He spent the next season and a half with the team, posting a 3.27 ERA across 55 appearances. Greene was primarily used as a set-up man for closer Mark Melancon, who signed with San Diego this past winter.
Despite his resume, which includes an All-Star nod in 2019 with the Tigers before his trade to the Braves, Greene didn’t latch onto another team over the winter. Braves fans clamored for the team to re-sign Greene and bolster their later-innings relief group, and it appears they’ll get their wish. Greene was considered the best free-agent reliever still available.
“He showed the benefit (of having him) last year with the role he assumed in that strong bullpen last year,” said manager Brian Snitker, who didn’t speak in concrete terms because the deal isn’t official. “There’s a guy who’s willing and able to do any role in that bullpen. He came to me last year when we had all the starting woes and said, ‘I’ll start games if you want me to.’ He’s a durable guy. He had a really solid year. If and when he gets back here, I’ll be excited to get him in the mix.”
Greene will be a tremendous boost to a bullpen that’s suffered a steep drop-off from a season ago. He’d give the Braves another proven right-hander to pair with high-leverage lefties Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter and Will Smith. The team also is expecting Chris Martin to return from the injured list as early as this week, so a southpaw-heavy unit could be receiving two right-handed upgrades in short time with Martin and Greene, who will build himself back up in Triple-A before joining the team.
The Braves’ continued bullpen auditions have been a storyline throughout the team’s mediocre start. The Braves have tried several relievers, from veterans Nate Jones and Carl Edwards to unheralded pitchers like Grant Dayton and Jesse Biddle to youngsters like Jasseel De La Cruz. Adding Greene certainly changes the outlook of the bullpen, giving the Braves a more consistent performer who’s proven himself in the uniform.
In all, the Braves’ bullpen looks stronger on paper with Will Smith, Minter, Matzek, Greene and Martin. Southpaw Sean Newcomb is trying to rediscover form in Triple-A, and if he recaptures his early season success, he’d be another solid add to the group. Long reliever Josh Tomlin also adds reliability, rounding out the core of the unit.
Greene is a seven-year veteran, having pitched for the Yankees, Tigers and Braves. His career-best stretch was the first half of 2019, when he had a 1.18 ERA and recorded 22 saves for a rebuilding Tigers team, earning his only All-Star nod. While Greene regressed after his trade to the Braves, he was highly effective in the shortened 2020 campaign with a 2.60 ERA and 21:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27-2/3 innings (28 games).
The Braves entered play Sunday at 16-17 after a wild 12-inning victory over the Phillies on Saturday night. As underwhelming as the start is, the Braves were just 1-1/2 games behind the Mets for first place in the division before Sunday’s games.
Talkin’ Jake of Jomboy Media was the first to report the Braves and Greene had a deal. MLB insider Ken Rosenthal reports the contract is for $1.5 million, which equates to roughly $1.2 million prorated.