For the most part, MLB teams took Thanksgiving weekend off. Technically the only completed major league transaction during the four-day turkey-infused stretch came on Sunday night, with the Angels signing old friend Adam Kolarek to a one-year contract.
Kolarek’s deal is worth $900,000, and it’s a major league contract for the left-hander who will turn 35 years old in January. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last December that included a non-roster invitation to spring training.
In any other era, Kolarek would have been an ideal LOOGY reliever, holding left-handed batters to just .184/.235/.250 in his career, compared to right-handers hitting .309/.394/.485 against him. But he’s been hurt by the three-batter minimum, which went into effect in 2020.
He pitched a total of five games for the Dodgers and Mets during the 2023 season, and in the last three years has pitched far more innings in the minors (122⅔) than in the majors (32⅔).
The ground-ball specialist pitched in the postseason in both 2019 and 2020 for the Dodgers, then got traded to Oakland. His return to Los Angeles in 2023 including one game in the majors and 33 more in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Kolarek also pitched in the minors for the Braves last year (more info coming on his season review this Sunday).
In his one game for the Dodgers in 2023, Kolarek recorded four outs and did not allow a run. He’s one of 75 players in the 140-year history of the franchise to have a 0.00 ERA in a season. Six of those 0.00-ERA seasons came in 2023, the most they’ve had in any single year. They also had five 0.00 ERAs in 2021.
Of the 75 seasons with a 0.00 ERA, nine were by position players thrust into mop-up duty, including Luke Williams and Yonny Hernández in one game each in 2023.
Kolarek has one of 42 one-game, 0.00-ERA years in Dodgers history. Another 18 pitched two games. The only two in double-digits were Steve Wilson, with a 0.00 ERA in 11 games and 8⅓ innings in 1991, and Fernando Valenzuela, with 10 games and 17⅔ innings allowing only two unearned runs in September 1980, providing a brief preview of Fernandomania.
Kolarek joins an Angels team that needed left-handed relievers. Their two most-used southpaws in 2023 were Aaron Loup and Matt Moore, combining for 96 games and 92⅔ innings. Moore was one of the many Angels players claimed off waivers in late August, and ended up pitching for both the Guardians and Marlins over the season’s final month.
In seven major league seasons with the Rays, Dodgers, A’s, and Mets, Kolarek has a 3.62 ERA (118 ERA+) and 4.09 FIP in 175 games, with 101 strikeouts and 149⅓ innings.