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Rockies trade Sam Hilliard to Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher

The move opens up a spot on the 40-man roster while giving Hilliard a change of scenery.

The Colorado Rockies have made the first trade of the offseason, announcing that they have acquired right-handed pitcher Dylan Spain from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for outfielder Sam Hilliard.

The move brings about the end of an up-and-down career in Colorado for Hilliard. Originally a 15th-round pick in 2015, Hilliard spent parts of four seasons with the big league club, making his initial debut in 2019. He dazzled the team with seven home runs in 27 games that season, but the following seasons would not be so kind as strikeouts continued to be a hurdle for him, posting a 32.7% career strikeout rate as a Rockie.

Hilliard’s largest stint with the Rockies came in 2021 when he played in 81 games and hit a career-high 14 home runs and batted .215/.294/.423 in a bench role. In 2022, he struggled to a .184/.280/.264 batting line with just two home runs in 70 games, resulting in him spending the majority of the season in Triple-A Albuquerque. He has seen plenty of success in the minors, specifically at the Triple-A level, batting .264/.344/.574 with 62 home runs in 216 career games. A change in scenery may do Hilliard some good as he joins a Braves organization looking to build up depth, especially in the outfield.

In return, the Rockies have acquired Dylan Spain, a 24-year-old pitcher from Hawaii. Spain was drafted by the Braves in the 10th round of the 2021 draft and spent all of the 2022 season with the High-A Rome Braves. In 36 games, including seven starts, Spain pitched to the tune of a 5.30 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 13 walks in 56 innings of work.

The Rockies now have 37 players on their 40-man roster, with free agency set to begin on Thursday.