Dodgers Add Lefty While Rays Declare Everything Fringy Must Go

In one of the lower profile deals of the day, the Dodgers added a new top lefty to their pen at a low cost, while the Rays continued their concerted effort to clear out 40-man space, with a gamble on a power bat who doesn’t need to be protected for two years.

Adam Kolarek is a lefty reliever who throws sinkers 82% of the time at 88-91 mph from a near-sidearm slot. Over the last two seasons, he’s eighth in groundball rate among relievers with at least 70 IP. Lefty relievers at that level come in velo models of hard (Zack Britton and Aaron Bummer average 95 mph), medium (Scott Alexander averages 93 mph), and soft (Kolarek and T.J. McFarland averages 89 mph). Aside from Bummer, they all have xFIPs between 3.60 and 4.00, so while Kolarek doesn’t seem overwhelming, his regular season peripherals aren’t that different from Britton’s, even though Britton’s higher-octane stuff figures to play better in October. As you might guess, Kolarek has a 101-point platoon split in his wOBA allowed. He may be fine in the short-term, and he’s still pre-arb with options remaining, but he’s also a 30-year-old late-bloomer with no margin for error, so this likely won’t last forever.

Niko Hulsizer was a 35 FV in the Others of Note Section of the offseason Dodgers’ list, and he’s still there for now, having not been added to THE BOARD just yet. He hit 27 homers as a sophomore at Morehead State, but that came with 74 strikeouts. A broken hamate bone in his draft year pushed him to the 18th round. He’s struck a better balance between power and strikeouts in pro ball, and is 22-years-old in High-A, continuing to hit for enough thump to make it all worth it. There’s some stiffness to the strength-based power, so he’s likely a platoon piece or bench power bat if it all clicks, with our expectations being that he’s more of a Triple-A slugger who gets a cup of coffee, at least until we see a little more performance.

This was the last of a number of 40-man focused moves for Tampa Bay this month, as Eric and I covered in depth just before the deadline. In addition to Kolarek, they shipped out 40-man (or soon to be) middle infield depth (Christian Arroyo, Nick Solak, Andrew Velazquez) and pitchers who were set to be out of options in 2020 and likely couldn’t crack the staff down the stretch (Hunter Wood, Casey Sadler, Jake Faria, Ryne Stanek), along with two more guys hanging around the back of the 40-man without a clear path to playing time (Ian Gibaut, Joe McCarthy). That was punctuated by a shocking move to ship out soon-to-be-protected right fielder Jesus Sanchez, our 35th-ranked prospect, to Miami. Kolarek was expendable due to the Rays’ impressive lefty pitching depth (Blake Snell, Brendan McKay, Jose Alvarado, Colin Poche, Jalen Beeks, Anthony Banda, Ryan Yarbrough).

In return, the Rays have acquired Nick Anderson and Peter Fairbanks to beef up the bullpen, Trevor Richards to fill a starting role, and Jesús Aguilar to supply some righty thump, all areas where the team had greater need in the short-term than the middle infielders and controllable bullpen fodder in Triple-A they’d been hoarding. Those four are all keepers into 2020 (Eric Sogard was a rental addition), so the offseason 40-man crunch is a net plus-seven this month while losing no short-term contributors, improving the big league team for the stretch run, and losing only one real valuable piece (Sanchez).

Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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3 years ago

One slight quibble. I think Stanek would definitely have cracked the staff down the stretch.

3 years ago
Reply to  bobr

He’s on IL though. Maybe they”re worried about something, decided to cut bait with him. Nick Anderson is pretty good return, too. Despite advanced age, he’s still a rookie, likely controllable throughout his effective years.