Apparently the Atlanta Braves were concerned about Tommy Hanson’s drop in fastball velocity over the last couple of seasons. because the Braves have traded Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Jordan Walden.
Hanson was entering the first year of arbitration eligibility and was due to make at least $4 million. He was once considered to be a future backbone of the Braves rotation, but troubles with his mechanics and velocity and the fact that he was due for a significant pay increase led the Braves to trade the right-hander.
In Walden, the Braves receive yet another power-arm for their bullpen. Walden does have some experience closing, having saved 32 games for the Angels in 2011, but he became expendable after the Angels signed Ryan Madson and the needs in their rotation outweighed those of their bullpen.
Hanson will serve as insurance in the likelihood that Zack Greinke signs elsewhere as a free agent. Right now, the Angels feature a rotation of C.J. Wilson, Hanson and Jared Weaver. They could still bring Dan Haren back into the fold, but are likely to wait and see what happens with Greinke does before making an offer to the pitcher they tried to trade to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Marmol.
From the Braves standpoint, I am not a fan of this trade. Yes, Hanson’s numbers have been trending down in recent years, but he is still a capable starting pitcher who is still only 26. Right now the Braves will be asking a lot of young arms like Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, both promising arms, to pick up the slack.
Hanson owns a career mark of 45-32, 3.61 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and averages 186 strikeouts per 162 game season. Starting pitchers are much harder to find than bullpen arms, even if Hanson has battled injuries in recent years. It isn’t like the Braves are getting a pitcher without injury risk in return, either. Walden missed a large chunk of time last season with a strained bicep in his throwing arm.
While Walden is a good pitcher, and will certainly help lock up the middle and late innings for the Braves, I don’t like this trade from the Braves standpoint. They didn’t need the bullpen help and have thinned a rotation that has a ton of concerns of its own. Will Brandon Beachy stay healthy? Will Teheran or Delgado be ready for the MLB level?
I have never been a fan of trading a useable starting pitcher for a useful relief pitcher. Relievers are easy to find, especially on the cheap. This trade would make more sense if the Braves are ready to sign a free agent pitcher, perhaps even Haren, and needed the money to get that deal done. However, right now, the Braves got the short end of this trade.