Today, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired IF Sheldon Neuse and RHP Gus Varland from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for LHP Adam Kolarek and OF Cody Thomas.
Having incredible depth just about everywhere pays off, and it shows with these two trades. The Dodgers' bullpen has no shortage of options, especially on the left side. Kolarek had a 0.88 ERA in 46 games in Los Angeles, and the fact that he is expendable is impressive. With Victor Gonzalez and Caleb Ferguson also giving them production, they could focus on other elements of the roster. After losing Enrique Hernandez and potentially losing Justin Turner, the Dodgers could use a right handed hitting infielder. In steps Neuse, who debuted for the A's in 2019, but struggled. He absolutely raked at AAA, however. Neuse did not appear in an MLB game in 2020, but that could easily change in 2021. Varland was a 14th round pick in 2018 for Oakland. He does not have much minor league experience, but his 10.8 K/9 in the games that he has played in is impressive. The Dodgers trade Thomas here mostly because they did not have a spot for the 26 year old in the organization. Overall, I don't like this trade for them as the deal Kolarek, an effective left hander and Thomas, who was their 29th best prospect (per MLB Pipeline) for a depth piece in Neuse and a low-level prospect in Varland.
Neuse, 26, hit no home runs with a .250 average and a .599 OPS in 61 Plate Appearances for the Athletics in 2019. In AAA Las Vegas, he hit 27 home runs with a .317 average and a .939 OPS in 560 Plate Appearances. In his minor league career, Neuse has hit 49 home runs with 23 stolen bases, a .294 average and an .812 OPS in 1728 Plate Appearances.
Varland, 24, had a 2.39 ERA with 27 strikeouts and a 1.177 WHIP in 26.1 innings for High-A Stockton in 2019. In his minor league career, Varland has a 1.54 ERA with 77 strikeouts and a 0.964 WHIP in 64.1 innings.
From both a win-now and future perspective, I like this trade for Oakland. After Jake Diekman's 2020 dominance, they could use a left-hander to deal with platooning while Diekman moves to a high-leverage role. Kolarek is a perfect option. He has three extra years of team control after 2021, and was great in Los Angeles. In 2020, lefties went 3-for-40 against him, with a slugging of .088 against his sinker. A 2016 13th round pick, Thomas has hit for power in his minor league career, most recently at AA. He moves up to the 20th spot in the A's prospect rankings, per MLB Pipeline. He is an older prospect, and he's actually older than Neuse.
Kolarek, 32, had a 0.95 ERA with 13 strikeouts, a 3.14 FIP and a 0.789 WHIP in 19 innings for the Dodgers in 2020. In his MLB career for Los Angeles and the Tampa Bay Rays, Kolarek has a 3.32 ERA with 81 strikeouts, a 3.87 FIP and a 1.157 WHIP in 116.2 innings.
Thomas, 26, hit 23 home runs with five stolen bases, a .236 average and a .751 OPS in 532 Plate Appearances for AA Tulsa in 2019. In his minor league career, Thomas has hit 81 home runs with 26 stolen bases, a .255 average and an .803 OPS in 1869 Plate Appearances.