The Los Angeles Angels have acquired starting pitcher Tommy Hanson from the Atlanta Braves for reliever Jordan Walden. The deal was initially reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and later confirmed by Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
Angels trade for tommy hanson— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 30, 2012
Hanson was viewed as one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball prior to last season. He posted an ERA of 3.60 or better for three straight seasons and was just 25 years of age.
Unfortunately for the Braves, he wasn't able to match that level of performance in 2012. His velocity dropped, his once devastating curveball started hanging out over the plate and his ERA ballooned to 4.48. Worst of all, the advance stats suggest it wasn't simply bad luck (4.57 FIP).
In making this swap, the Angels have bought low on the right-handed hurler with the hope that he will bounce back next season. In exchange, they send Walden—their primary closer in the 2011 season—to Atlanta.
Walden has a 3.06 career ERA in three seasons while striking out more than 11 hitters per nine innings. He will join an already dominant Braves bullpen that features one of the league's best closers, Craig Kimbrel, and setup men Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters.
It's a surprising move from the Braves' perspective. Although their starting pitching depth will allow them to replace Hanson, the team's biggest need is a left fielder or third baseman. This is assuming, of course, that Martin Prado plays one of the two positions, and B.J. Upton takes over in center.
Bottom line, the bullpen wasn't in need of further reinforcements.
Perhaps the Hanson deal signals another move on the horizon. If not, the Braves will enter next season with arguably the most complete pitching staff in baseball. With Walden joining Kimbrel, O'Flaherty and Venters, they can effectively make most games a six-inning affair.
Hanson joins a rotation that includes aces Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in Los Angeles. On the Angels' part, the move is a sign that they don't like their chances of re-signing Zack Greinke, who is currently a free agent.