OAKLAND -- After losing some key relievers from last year’s club earlier this offseason, the A’s bullpen was replenished on Friday.
A's get: LHP Adam Kolarek, OF Cody Thomas
Dodgers get: INF Sheldon Neuse, RHP Gus Varland
Kolarek was especially tough on left-handed hitters last season, holding them to a .077 average. After joining the Dodgers at the 2019 Trade Deadline, Kolarek emerged as their top left-handed option in the bullpen. He went 5-0 with a 0.88 ERA in 46 relief appearances over two seasons with Los Angeles, including a '20 campaign in which he allowed just two runs and 11 hits across 19 innings.
Kolarek’s postseason history could also prove valuable for an A’s club that has made quick exits in each of the last three years. The 32-year-old left-hander was impressive in the 2019 National League Division Series against the Nationals, retiring Juan Soto each of the three times he was summoned to face the elite slugger.
In the A's bullpen, Kolarek will likely be tasked with facing the many tough left-handed hitters who reside in the American League, primarily those in the AL West, such as Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Joey Gallo. With closer Liam Hendriks and late-inning righty Joakim Soria signing elsewhere this offseason, Kolarek should see a fair amount of work in high-leverage situations late in games for Oakland.
Thomas, 26, was ranked the Dodgers' No. 29 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and his raw power immediately becomes among the best that the A’s possess in their system. The outfielder last played at Double-A Tulsa in 2019, hitting .236 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs in 130 games. He was selected by Los Angeles in the 13th round of the 2016 MLB Draft and he is a .255 hitter with 80 doubles, 21 triples, 81 home runs and 278 RBIs in 437 games over four seasons in the Minors.
Neuse was long expected to eventually join the likes of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson somewhere in Oakland’s infield, but aside from a short stint in the Majors as a September callup in 2019, he was never given a full slate of at-bats to see if his impressive Minor League numbers could translate to the Majors. With the Dodgers still in need of a starting third baseman, perhaps that big league shot will materialize for the 26-year-old in Los Angeles.
Varland, 24, went 2-2 with a 1.54 ERA in 18 games (none above Class A Advanced) in the A’s farm system and he was ranked Oakland’s No. 28 prospect prior to the deal. Though Varland last pitched at Class A Advanced Stockton in 2019, many within the organization expected the right-hander to make a big jump through the system this upcoming season.