The Dodgers brought back the left-hander Adam Kolarek on a minor league contract earlier this month, as noted by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America. Los Angeles has also added the southpaw James Jones on a non-list pact.
Kolarek spent parts of the 2019-20 campaigns in LA Acquired from the Rays at the 2019 trade deadline, he would spend the next year and a half with the Dodgers. The Sidewinder was a quietly excellent bullpen piece, posting a 0.88 ERA through 30 2/3 innings. There’s some amount of luck in any ERA that low, of course, but he held opponents to a .182/.222/.255 line as a situational matchup nightmare for left-handed hitters.
Following the 2020 campaign, the Dodgers dealt Kolarek to Oakland as part of a four-player trade. It didn’t go the way Oakland had hoped, with the Maryland product struggling for parts of two seasons. He allowed a 5.74 ERA in 26 2/3 innings in green and gold, with opponents striking out at a .313/.403/.455 clip. After posting a 4.58 ERA through 15 outings this past season, he was designated for assignment in late June.
Kolarek finished the year with Oakland’s top affiliate in Las Vegas after clearing waivers. He allowed a 6.10 ERA over 41 1/3 innings with the Aviators, a disappointment even after accounting for the extreme hitter-friendly nature of the Pacific Coast League. However, the 33-year-old continued to induce grounders at an elite clip, and he held left-handed hitters to a .234/.311/.319 line in Triple-A. The Dodgers will take a low-risk flier to see if he can recapture some of his past success and eventually reclaim a situational role in the relief corps.
Jones may be better known for his time as an outfielder with the Mariners from 2014-15. As an elite runner, he did not hit well enough to hold down an MLB spot despite stealing 27 bases in 108 games as a rookie. After a rough season in Triple-A in 2016, Jones converted to pitching. He spent a few years pitching in the Rangers’ farm system, the last couple mostly at Triple-A.
Now 34, Jones continues to work in hopes of making it back to the majors. He has yet to crack the highest level as a pitcher, thanks in large part to scattershot command. The Brooklyn native struck out an above-average 28.8% of the batters he faced through 16 Triple-A appearances this year, but that came with an unsustainable 19.7% walk rate. Still, the Dodgers were intrigued enough by his raw arsenal to give him another minor league opportunity.