Not too long after Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said he was "confident" with the team's current bullpen, despite there not really being any reason to be, LA traded for Rays reliever JP Feyereisen. He's not expected to be ready until late August, though, in what's seemingly a play for 2024 (seen this before).
So now what?! Per the Dodgers' transactions page, they've re-signed left-hander Adam Kolarek, who LA traded to the Oakland Athletics before the 2021 season. Kolarek came to the Dodgers in a trade with the Rays back in 2019 and appeared in 46 games (largely thanks to the shortened 2020).
In exchange for Kolarek at the time, the Dodgers also sent prospect outfielder Cody Thomas to Oakland in exchange for infielder Sheldon Neuse and Gus Varland, neither of whom are with the organization anymore.
Kolarek's time in Oakland was not good, so this trade was seemingly a wash. In 27 games (26.2 innings), the left-hander finished with a 5.74 ERA, 5.53 FIP and 1.80 WHIP. He struck out only 13 batters.
Compare that to his 0.88 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 0.85 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in 46 games (30.2 innings) with the Dodgers, and you can probably see why they brought him back. Pitching coach Mark Prior has all the answers.
The Dodgers have brought back reliever Adam Kolarek
Entering his age-34 season, Kolarek's "stuff" still plays. He's a soft-throwing lefty who sports a sinker, fastball, changeup and slider. Back in 2019, when he appeared in 80 games (the largest workload of his career), he was ranked in the upper echelon of the league for average exit velocity, expected ERA, xwOBA, expected slugging percentage, and chase rate.
Following the loss of David Price, the Dodgers need a low-leverage left-handed option out of the bullpen to eat innings and potentially capitalize on certain matchups on a given night if the rest of the team's arms are taxed. Right now, LA has just Alex Vesia, Justin Bruihl, Caleb Ferguson and Victor González as lefty relievers. González missed all of 2022, Bruihl regressed, and Ferguson was rarely used in high-leverage situations.
The smaller moves keep on coming. Kolarek's minor-league deal has the 40-man roster at 39 right now as the team awaits official word on Noah Syndergaard's contract. Undoubtedly, they will give him a chance to compete for a role in 2023.
If he can rediscover his 2019-2020 form, he'll fit into the picture, regardless of whether he's used for meaningful outs or not.