Most teams don't really start their off-season machinations until the Winter Meetings. Jerry Dipoto don't care. Jerry Dipoto does what he wants when he wants and today he continued his ridiculously active off-season by trading talented but erratic young reliever Jordan Walden for talented but risky starting pitcher Tommy Hanson, thus plugging one of the two gaping holes in the Angel rotation.
This deal is the very definition of a challenge trade. The Halos give up Walden, who was once their closer but now figured to be no better than the fourth righty out of the 'pen for Hanson, who looked like a Cy Young caliber pitcher for the first two and a half years of his career before his shoulder started to go wonky on him, robbing him of his velocity and effectiveness. In that respect, you have to like the deal for both sides as they both swapped assets that they had soured on for assets that have a potential big payout.
Maybe Hanson gets healthy and the Angels end up getting a frontline pitcher for a reliever they had no use for. Or maybe Hanson's shoulder totally turns into pudding and he is barely a league average pitcher, if not worse, but it still didn't cost the Halos anything they will miss terribly. Even if it is that worst case scenario, it is hard to be too upset about the Angels turning 60 innings of a relief pitcher into (hopefully) 180 innings of a starting pitcher.
The real intriguing part of this deal though is the trickle down effect it might have. For starters, Hanson is just now entering his first year of arbitration and will make around $4 million, which is pretty cheap as far as starting pitchers go. That leaves them plenty of room to add another high quality starting pitcher to fill out the final spot in the rotation, it might even provide them with enough savings to make a more substantial play in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes.
It does, however, weaken the bullpen that the Angels just strengthened by adding Ryan Madson. It wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see Dipoto use those monetary savings to go out and add another quality reliever, possibly Kyuji Fujikawa or Mike Adams, to take Walden's spot.
What exactly Dipoto will do with his remaining cash and remaining spots to fill, we don't know. But it is probably safe to guess that he will do it fast.