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Dodgers trade Adam Kolarek to Athletics for prospects

Infielder Sheldon Neuse and pitcher Gus Varland headed to LA

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Four Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Athletics made a trade early Friday morning. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in thinking a blockbuster deal went down to acquire a certain third-baseman. Instead, it was a two-for-two swap.

In the deal, the Dodgers part ways with Juan Soto’s father, Adam Kolarek. The LHP was acquired by LA in the middle of the 2019 season and was excellent. In his two seasons with the Dodgers, Kolarek went 5-0 with an ERA of 0.88.

His 2020 postseason was rough, as he allowed a run in three of his four outings. He appeared in only 3 13 innings of work, but allowed five runs on nine hits and issued three weeks. Still, Kolarek is one of the best relievers in all of baseball when it comes to facing left-handed hitters.

The Dodgers also send outfield prospect Cody Thomas to Oakland in the deal. Thomas, 26, was the 29th ranked prospect in LA’s system. In four minor-league seasons in the organization, Thomas hit 81 home runs. He last played in 2019 with Tulsa.

In the move, the Dodgers acquire infielder Sheldon Neuse and right-handed pitcher Gus Varland.

Let’s kick things off with Neuse. He was already on the 40-man roster with Oakland, so he’ll be added to the Dodgers’ 40-man. So, for those of you wondering about Justin Turner, the Dodgers will need to make another move in order to clear a roster spot for him (assuming they sign him).

Neuse is the No. 5 prospect in Oakland’s system, per MLB Pipeline. He’s ranked No. 11 on Baseball America. He spent 25 games with the A’s in 2019, hitting .250. In those 25 games, 20 of them were spent at second base and five of them were spent at third base. He’s played all over the field throughout his time in the minors, spending time at second base, third base, shortstop and even the outfield.

In 2019, when he wasn’t in the big-leagues, Neuse spent 117 games in AAA. He hit .317/.389/.550/.939 with 27 HR and 102 RBI. Baseball America rated him as Oakland’s best hitter for average in their system.

Here’s his scouting report per Baseball America:

Neuse is mostly the same player he has been the past two years. He has above average raw power and impressive barrel control, but there are concerns about his strike-zone control after he posted a 31% strikeout rate in limited big league at-bats and a 32% strikeout rate at Triple-A Nashville in 2018. He chases fastballs up in the zone and has a hard time holding off on them. Neuse is a stocky athlete with surprisingly adequate athleticism defensively, where he’s aided by a plus arm. His natural fit is third base, but he has moved around the diamond in an effort to boost his versatility.

The other player the Dodgers acquired was RHP Gus Varland. The 24-year-old pitcher is ranked No. 28 in Oakland’s system, per Pipeline and No. 22 per Baseball America. The highest league he’s appeared in has been the Cal League, but he’s been great through his young career.

In two seasons in the minors, he has a 1.54 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 18 games. He averages 11 strikeouts per nine innings and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly five-to-one.

Here’s his scouting report per Baseball America:

Varland’s high-spin fastball induces plenty of whiffs or soft contact up in the zone and he commands it well. He threw just eight innings at instructs but his velocity crept up to 94-95 mph, which is a slight bump if he can sustain it. Varland also mixes in a tight-spinning, above-average slider and a below-average changeup that could use refinement. Varland pitches with deception because of some extra arm length in his delivery, although that has also caused additional stress on his elbow. The A’s worked with Varland to add more flex to his elbow upon foot strike to alleviate strain. He showed above-average control prior to surgery but has to show it has come back.