The first trade Fran Wren orchestrated during the Atlanta
Braves' off-season in 2012 was a pitching swap, sending RHP Tommy Hanson
to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Jordan Walden
, a right-handed flame-throwing bullpen arm.
Hanson, once deemed an 'untouchable' prospect of the Atlanta
Braves, saw his numbers balloon after his 2009 and 2010 campaign with the Braves. Loss of velocity, and some very serious flaws in his throwing mechanics derailed what looked to be a promising career for what many considered to be the future ace of the Braves' pitching staff.
With a surplus of starting pitching at the end of their 2012 campaign, Frank Wren looked to deal Tommy Hanson
in light of his 4.48 ERA, declining strike-out numbers, and rise in walks and home runs. Wren found a suitor in the Angels,who sent Walden to Atlanta
in return for Hanson.
While many Braves fans were happy to see Hanson go in light of his recent woes, the return was surprising to many, as the Braves' bullpen was already considered to be one of the best, and deepest in the major leagues. After losing both Eric O'Flaherty and Johnny Venters
to Tommy John surgery, Walden's presence in the Atlanta
bullpen was greatly appreciated as he became one of the go-to set-up men.
Walden sports a 4-1 record, in his 2013 season with the Braves, appearing in 42 games. He sports a 10.62 K/9 rate, a 2.77 BB/9 rate and .23 HR/9 rate. Coupled with a 2.31 ERA, Walden has been good for a solid 1.2 WAR in his first season with the Braves.
Walden has become an essential component to the Braves' bullpen, and has proved to be a solid acquisition considering the injuries that have decimated the bullpen this season. Walden has proven to be an adequate setup man, as well as an adequate closer on nights when Craig Kimbrel
To further prove the genius displayed by Wren in acquiring Walden, Hanson was recently designated for assignment to the Angels’ triple-A affiliate, whereas Walden has cemented a spot in the Braves’ bullpen.
Photo credit: Dinur / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
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, Atlanta Braves
, Craig Kimbrel
, Eric O'Flaherty
, Johnny Venters
, Jordan Walden
, Tommy Hanson