In the first trade of the 2022-23 off-season, the Braves have acquired outfielder Sam Hilliard from Colorado, per an official announcement from the Rockies. Minor league pitcher Dylan Spain is heading back to the Rockies in the deal.
Hilliard, 28, hit .184/.280/.264 with two home runs across 200 plate appearances for the Rockies in 2022. He went much better at their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .308/.405/.669 with 13 home runs. While he’s never really hit at the major league level, his performance in 2022 was someway below his career line of .212/.294/.423 as he’s generally shown more power in the bigs than he showed this season. He did appear at all three outfield positions, but spent most of his time in left where he was worth ten Defensive Runs Saved across 377 innings.
Spain was a tenth round pick for the Braves in the 2021 draft. He spent all of 2022 at their High-A affiliate, tossing 56 innings of 5.30 ERA ball across 36 appearances, most of which came out of the bullpen. The 24-year-old struck out batters 24.7% of the time and walked 5.3%. He struggled a fair bit with the long ball, giving up 11 home runs.
For the Rockies, the trade clears a spot on the 40-man roster, which now stands at 37 players. For the Braves, they get a depth outfielder who could compete for a roster spot in spring training. Hilliard is out of options, but his form at Triple-A shows there’s enough upside for the Braves to give him a shot to potentially land on their bench in 2023.