I understand the Los Angeles Angels are looking for affordable help for the back of their rotation, and I don't think trading a hard-throwing reliever for it is a bad idea, but I'm very pessimistic about the pitcher they acquired, Tommy Hanson, while I think the reliever they dealt, Jordan Walden, still has the potential to become a 2-plus WAR reliever for the Atlanta Braves.
The Angels didn't give up a ton for Hanson, but Hanson is so diminished at this point by shoulder and back problems that I'm not sure I'd want any part of him at his projected $4 million salary in arbitration. Hanson's a mess, and even when healthy in 2012 was barely above replacement level. He got worse as the season went on, and his fastball hasn't been the same since the shoulder problems began in earnest in 2011.
He doesn't have a great delivery, one that relies more on his arm than his legs to generate velocity, with late arm acceleration and minimal hip rotation, and he's fairly unathletic as well.
His command and control are both in decline as well, and unless the Angels plan to do something radical, such as giving him extra time off between starts or perhaps start his 2013 season later to try to build up strength in his shoulder and ensure that his back is 100 percent, I'm not optimistic that he'll be able to help their rotation.
In exchange for a player they had to at least be considering a potential non-tender, Atlanta gets back a project reliever in Walden. He throws in the upper 90s with heavy sink, but has below-average command and often has to elevate the ball just to throw strikes, meaning he doesn't generate the ground balls you'd expect from the scouting report.
His slider is sharp but is just a pitch to keep hitters off the fastball, meaning it won't be effective unless he can improve his ability to locate his primary pitch.
But Walden isn't eligible for arbitration yet, with one more year of club control than Hanson has remaining, so Atlanta saves some cash for 2013 and also has more time to try to fix what ails Walden, mostly command, which is more likely than the Angels fixing Hanson's health issues. I'd much rather have four years of Walden than three of Hanson, and that's even more true when we consider the greater expense for Hanson, because arbitration values starters more highly than non-closer relievers.