The Blue Jays announced this morning that the club has exercised its two-year club option to acquire the services of the veteran right-hander. Chad Green. Green will now earn a total of $21MM through the 2024 and 2025 seasons. Green signed an unusual contract with Toronto this past offseason that gave the club a three-year, $27MM team option, which if declined would give Green a one-year, $6.5MM player option. If both of those options were declined, the Blue Jays would have a final two-year, $21MM option. Apparently, Green’s original club option and player option were both declined before Toronto picked up the two-year option.
Green, 32, missed most of the 2022 and ’23 campaigns while rehabbing Tommy John surgery. A look at Green’s basic run prevention stats will show that the right-hander struggled in his return to action in 2023, given his 5.25 ERA which was 17% worse than the league average. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as Green pitched twelve innings with Toronto this year and had excellent peripheral stats. He struck out 30.8% of the batters he faced while walking just 7.7% and allowing one home run, giving him a very palatable 2.67 FIP.
That kind of performance is very consistent with Green’s career numbers. After an uneven rookie season in which he was used primarily as a starter in 2016, Green became one of the game’s most reliable relievers from 2017-2022, as he posted a 2.96 ERA (147 ERA+) with a 3.01 FIP and a 33.4 strikeout rate. %. As impressive as those numbers are, they were actually affected by the first slow return in 2019. Throughout his career, Green sports a league-leading 2.88 ERA in 338 innings out of the bullpen. That’s the sixth-best total among all four pitchers with at least 300 innings since Green’s 2016 start, surpassed only by Josh Hader, Kenley Jansen, Raisel Iglesias, Blake Treinenagain Aroldis Chapman.
Of course, it’s an open question whether Green can reach those heights again in his age-33 and -34 campaigns. After all, Green is in his mid-thirties after a long surgery. While his velocity didn’t appear to be affected during his short run in the majors this year, it’s hard to say how the surgery will affect him for the rest of the season. Between his age, the fact that he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2021, and the drug faltering in general, there’s little risk of giving Green a two-year, $21MM guarantee as they’re obviously not good enough to be among the best players in baseball.
Given that combination of risk and potential reward, a two-year, $21MM deal seems like a reasonable price point for both sides of the system. The intriguing structure of the contract left MLBTR readers divided in a recent poll, with each of those four possible outcomes (a free agent hitting green and each of the three possible preferred options) receiving between 20% and 30% of the total vote. That being said, Toronto’s bullpen is also slated to lose Jordan Hicks again Jay Jackson in free agency this offseason, keeping Green gives the club a quality setup man to partner with Erik Swanson in front of close Jordan Romano in 2024.