The Atlanta Braves have traded starting pitcher Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports via a tweet. According to Danny Knobler, the Braves will receive reliever Jordan Walden.
This move will save the Braves approximately $4 to $5 million dollars, the amount Hanson would have received in arbitration. It was rumored several days ago that the Braves could use that money to trade for or sign a left fielder.
Walden will immediately become the top right-handed setup reliever in the Braves bullpen, taking the job held by Chad Durbin last year and Scott Linebrink the year before. Walden comes in with experience as a closer, having saved 32 games in 2011 for the Halos. He throws a heavy fastball that has been likened to a bowling ball or brick because of his sink and because of how hard it is to drive when contact is made.
This may not seem like a lot to get in return for Hanson, but with his alarming drop in velocity the past two years, and steady increase in salary as he hits arbitration, the Braves felt they needed to get what they could in return for him now, rather than wait until he either costs too much, or loses any life he might have left on his fastball.
The Braves make this move from a position of depth by trading a starting pitcher, and get a right-handed reliever who will fit very well in their bullpen as a setup man along side lefties O'Flaherty and Venters. The market for relievers is expected to be costly this winter, so the Braves add a really good one without overpaying in terms of dollars.
I like this trade for the Braves. You can never have enough experienced relievers in this day and age, and I'm glad the team got rid of Hanson before he went the way of Jair Jurrjens (whom they will likely non-tender today, making him a free agent). Good trade. Probably a win for both teams, without either team getting an edge; though it could end up working out as a significant win for the if Hanson returns to form, or for the Braves if Hanson falters and Walden is dominant in the 8th inning.
The biggest win for Atlanta is in clearing salary. A move which should precipitate more moves as the team goes after a free agent left fielder. Moving Hanson also opens up a rotation spot for either Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado -- that should be a good battle in spring training. Removing Hanson from the Braves pitching depth also indicates that they will likely keep both Teheran and Delgado instead of making them available in a trade. It also increases the likelihood that the Braves will add a left fielder via free agency rather than via a trade.
One point to consider about Walden is that his delivery is ... funky, to say the least. Here is a pretty awesome GIF of Walden's delivery:
In Baseball Nation's review of this trade, Grant Brisbee refers to Walden's delivery as "jumping of the mound like a meth-addled ninja." Should be fun to watch this year...