The Angels always had big plans for relief pitcher Jordan Walden, but not anymore. The right-hander, who became expendable with the team’s signing of Ryan Madson this week, was traded to the Atlanta Braves on Friday for starter Tommy Hanson.
Hanson isn’t Zack Greinke, the big free-agent prize this offseason, but he’s a solid No. 3 who will fit in behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the Angels’ top two starters.
“It’s a good risk on a pitcher we really believe in,” Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said
The move could be interpreted as an indication that the Angels won’t retain free-agent starter Greinke. The Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals have shown interest in Greinke.
Hanson, 26, had a 13-10 record and 4.48 ERA in 31 starts for the Braves last season.
“I don’t know that we’re necessarily looking for a bounce back,” Dipoto said. “He won 13 games. I don’t think it would be fair to qualify it as a disappointing season. … His velocity remained consistent from month to month. Our scouting reports remained consistent with what we’ve always thought of Tommy. He’s done it for four years at the big league level, and we think he’ll continue to do it.”
His career record in four seasons, all with Atlanta, is 45-32. Hanson, who pitched at Riverside Community College, is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.
“Where I grew up there’s a ton of Angels fans,” Hanson said. “I grew up going to Angels games. … Immediately I was shocked and now I’m just excited. I wish spring training was tomorrow.”
Walden is likely to become the Braves’ primary right-handed set-up man. He was the Angels’ closer in 2011, saving 32 games, but he led the American League with 10 blown saves. Last season, he was a middle-innings reliever and had a 3-2 record, 3.46 ERA and one save.
With Madson expected to be their closer and Ernesto Frieri and Kevin Jepsen as late-innings specialists, the Angels felt Walden was better off being moved to help acquire a starting pitcher.
The Angels also claimed outfielder Scott Cousins off of waivers from the Mariners. Cousins has hit .183 with 2 HRs and 9 RBI in 128 games for the Marlins from 2010-12. Cousins is best known for his 2011 collision with catcher Buster Posey, ending his season.