Tigers 'happy with return' after dealing closer Greene to Braves, outfielder Castellanos to Cubs
Anaheim, Calif. — It wasn't quite like pulling Austin Jackson off the field in the middle of the game, but it was close.
It went right down to the wire, but in the end, the Tigers did find trade partners for both closer Shane Greene and right fielder Nick Castellanos. And by down to the wire, we mean with 42 seconds left on the clock.
"We made the trades we were looking to make," general manager Al Avila said. "And we were happy with our return."
With less than an hour left before the deadline, the Braves and Tigers reached an agreement for the Tigers closer. Greene went to the Braves for left-handed pitcher Joey Wentz and outfielder Travis Demeritte.
Wentz, 21, the No.7-rated prospect in the Braves system according to MLB Pipeline, is expected to join the talent-rich rotation at Double-A Erie.
Demeritte, a 2013 first-round pick of the Rangers who has found himself at age 24 — 20 home runs and a .994 OPS at Triple-A Gwinnett — could be joining the Tigers as early as Friday.
"Demeritte has had a long road for sure," Avila said. "He was a first round pick and got a lot of money. But he's doing really well at Triple-A and I am going to have a conversation with Gardy (manager Ron Gardenhire) about the possibility of sending him straight to the big leagues.
"He's been around a little bit and he has some experience. He ready to be tested at the big-league level."
The real drama, though, surrounded the Castellanos deal. He was in uniform, in the starting lineup and in the dugout just minutes before the first pitch when he got a tap on the shoulder from coach Joe Vavra.
"I was sitting there, I looked up and the clock said 1:02," Castellanos said. "So I was like, 'All right, let's finish strong.'"
But just 42 seconds ahead of the 4 p.m. EDT deadline, the deal to send Castellanos to the Cubs for right-handed pitching prospects Paul Richan and Alex Lange was approved.
"That was a tough one," Avila said. "Richan is a good prospect and Lange was a first-round pick in 2017...We feel very fortunate to be able to get two pitching prospects that still have upside and can get to the big leagues and contribute for a guy who is basically a two-month rental — even as good a hitter as Nick is."
Castellanos, 27, has been with the Tigers since they took him in the first round in 2010. He is easily the club's best homegrown position player since Curtis Granderson. But the timing of his free agency didn't fit the Tigers' rebuilding timeline and he's been on the trade market for two years.
"First off, I am very excited to go to Chicago and be able to help that team in a pennant race any way I can," he said. "But I also know that when all this excitement slows down, I am going to miss everything here.
"I was in Detroit for nine years. Everything I know besides high school baseball is the Detroit Tigers. If I've done it, I did it here."
He was asked if a change of scenery was needed.
"Needed? No, I didn't need it," he said. "But am I looking forward to going to Wrigley Field and being part of a contending team in a pennant race? Yes."
Greene has been with the Tigers the last five seasons, first as a starter then, far more successfully, as a reliever and ultimately the team’s closer. This season he posted 22 saves in 25 chances and had a WHIP of 0.87.
In 225 games as a reliever, Greene has 65 saves, a 3.83 ERA and has limited opponents to a .229 batting average.
"It's an exciting time, but there's mixed emotions," Greene said. "I've been traded before, so I get it. But this time I've obviously have built more relationships with my teammates, coaching staff and training staff.
"But it's time to start a new chapter."
Greene, who is expected to be the Braves closer, expressed regret for the way things bottomed out for the Tigers the last couple of years.
"It's disappointing," he said. "But to the 2019 Tigers, the group of guys we had here, we might not be a winning ballclub, but we had a lot of fun and that's where it starts. You have to have guys who care about each other and love each other and pull for each other on the field.
"That's where the winning starts and they have it here."
The Tigers' most valuable trade chip was starting pitcher Matthew Boyd. But the Tigers were dealing from a position of strength here. They have him under club control for three more years, so they were likely holding out for an extravagant return.
As it turned out, the offers they received for him weren't close to extravagant.
"I think the amount of attention he was getting in the media was overplayed," Avila said. "It's not like I took him off the market or anything like that, but really, there was never anything even close.
"Before the team went on this trip, I talked to him and told him I didn't think there was going to be a trade made."
Acquired for Shane Greene
Position: Left-handed pitcher
Drafted: By Atlanta Braves, first round, compensation, 2106, out of Shawnee Mission East HS, Prairie Village, Kansas
2019 stats (Mississippi Braves, Southern League): 5-8 record, 4.72 ERA, 1.311 WHIP, 103 innings, 90 hits, 100 strikeouts, 45 walks
Drafted: By Texas Rangers, first round, No. 30 overall, 2013, out of Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Georgia
2019 stats (Gwinnett Stripers, International League): .286 BA, .387 OBP, .558 SLG, 20 HR, 74 RBI
Acquired for Nick Castellanos
Position: Right-handed pitcher
Drafted: By Chicago Cubs, second round, compensation, 2018, out of University of San Diego
2019 stats (Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Carolina League): 10-5 record, 3.97 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 93 innings, 96 hits, 86 strikeouts, 18 walks
Position: Right-handed pitcher
Drafted: By Chicago Cubs, first round, No. 30 overall, out of LSU
2019 stats (combined, Tennessee Smokies, Southern League, and Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Carolina League): 3-12 record, 5.82 ERA, 1.604 WHIP, 86.2 innings, 94 hits, 79 strikeouts, 45 walks