After tending to the bullpen earlier this week, Jerry Dipoto attempted to shore up the starting rotation as the Angels traded flame throwing reliever Jordan Walden for Braves 26-year-old right-handed starter Tommy Hanson.
Due to signing Ryan Madson earlier this week to strengthen the bullpen, the Angels made known they were shopping Walden, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Two days later, a deal for Hanson materialized, now giving the Angels three certain members of the 2013 rotation, with Hanson joining Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. The Angels will surely look to add at least one more starter, with Zack Greinke of course being the biggest prize on the market.
Hanson was once touted by the Braves as a future ace, but injuries and a drop in velocity have hampered his potential.* After posting a 4.4 fWAR in 2010 with a 3.33 ERA, Hanson’s production has steadily declined over the past two seasons, culminating last year in a disappointing 4.48 ERA and career high walk rate. He did, however, post a respectable 8.30 K/9, better than any 2012 Angels starter (yes, including Greinke in his 13 starts with the club).
* Not to mention that Hanson is eligible for about $4M this season in arbitration, salary the pitching-rich Braves were happy to shed, especially in light of B.J. Upton’s new deal.
Hanson, at his best, would sit in the 92-93 MPH range with his fastball, but last year sat more in the high 80s while mixing in a slider, curveball, and occasional change-up.
Walden, meanwhile, became expendable for the Angels with Madson’s arrival and Ernesto Frieri’s 2012 breakout. Despite an All Star appearance in 2011, Walden fell out of Mike Scioscia’s favor last season and often found himself in low-leverage situations. Walden, though he had a powerful fastball, often had trouble locating and fooling batters with secondary pitches. The result was more than 4 walks per 9 and a disappointing 3.46 ERA. With the Angels’ need for starting pitching, his exit isn’t exactly a surprise.
A move to the AL in addition to the declining velocity is concerning, but the trade seems like a worthy gamble for the Angels. Hanson should be a decent middle or back end rotation pitcher and if he could somehow regain form to his days as one of the best prospects in baseball, this would be an absolute steal for the Angels. Hanson will be under team control through the 2015 season.
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