By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA — Three years after welcoming Tommy Hanson to the Major League level as baseball’s top pitching prospect, the Braves have created some payroll flexibility by trading the right-hander to the Angels on Friday.
Hanson was traded to the Angels in exchange for right-handed reliever Jordan Walden.
“We want to thank Tommy for his contributions to our organization,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “We were looking to add another power arm to our bullpen, and Jordan brings a power arm with well above-average stuff.”
By moving Hanson and the approximate $4 million salary he will likely get during his first arbitration-eligible season, the Braves have increased their options as they continue to search for an outfielder who could serve as their leadoff hitter.
This move could open the door for the Braves to make a more aggressive pursuit of free-agent outfielder Shane Victorino, who could be targeted to play left field and bat in the leadoff spot.
With Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado both ready to fill one of Atlanta’s rotation spots, the Braves were hoping to be able to trade Hanson, who went 13-10 with a 4.48 ERA in 31 starts this past season. The 26-year-old right-hander’s velocity has dropped over the past few seasons, and his mechanics have created cause for concern throughout his career.
Walden compiled a 3.46 ERA and recorded 48 strikeouts while issuing 18 walks in 39 innings for the Angels this past season. The 25-year-old hard-throwing right-hander has an overpowering fastball that has been clocked between 98-100 mph. Control and command of his secondary pitches have been a concern.