Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens once looked to be the future of the Braves’ rotation. Now if they build on their early promise, they’ll be doing it in different uniforms.
The Braves traded Hanson to the Angels for reliever Jordan Walden as part of a busy day for Atlanta’s rotation. The club also has also announced it will not tender a contract to Jurrjens (or reliever Peter Moylan).
In exchange for Hanson, the Braves strengthen an already formidable bullpen by adding Walden, who saved 32 games as a rookie closer in 2011.
“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.”
The Braves were expected to move a starter given their overload at the position, but it seemed unlikely both Hanson and Jurrjens would find themselves the odd men out.
Hanson, the Braves’ former No. 1 prospect, was 13-10 with a 4.48 ERA in 31 starts last season, continuing what has been a drop off.
In his rookie season in 2009, he started 9-2 and finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He would go on to throw 460 innings with a 3.28 ERA over his first three years.
While he had a career-high 13 wins last season and 161 strikeouts, his ERA rose to 4.48 during ’12. He suffered from back and shoulder injuries and walked a career-high 71 batters in 174 1/3 innings.
At 26 with plenty of upside to draw interest, and with a deal that has him under club control until 2015, moving Hanson made sense.
Jurrjens, 26, burst onto the scene with an impressive rookie year in 2008 in which he led the Braves with 13 wins and 139 strikeouts. He went on to win 14 games in ’09 with a 2.60 ERA and 152 Ks, but he suffered a shoulder injury the following spring and his ’10 was cut short with a right knee injury which also caused him to miss the first two weeks of 2011.
He bounced back to make his only All-Star Game appearance the following season in which he went 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA. Jurrjens’ velocity was down and so were his strikeouts, falling to 5.3 per nine innings, his lowest since joining the Braves.
Jurrjens was sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett last season, and while he returned to Atlanta in June, he allowed 14 earned runs over his last two starts before being placed on the disabled list Aug. 1 with a strained groin. He finished last season with a 6.89 ERA and 19 strikeouts to 18 walks.
By not tendering a deal to Jurrjens his is now free to negotiation with any team.
Either one making the starting rotation next season was no given.
With a rotation that includes Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, Mike Minor and Paul Maholm — along with Brandon Beachy who is expected to return in midseason from Tommy John surgery — Hanson was expected to have to compete with Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran as the fifth starter. Jurrjens would subsequently have been squeezed out.
Hanson’s deal continues a busy week for the Braves, who made the biggest move in free agency by signing center fielder B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million deal, making him the highest paid player in franchise history.