Dodgers sign Ricky Vanasco for 1-year, $900k + a look at the promising, newly-converted reliever

The Dodgers announced earlier today that they have signed right-handed pitcher Ricky Vanasco to a one-year, $900k MLB deal. Should he get optioned to the minors, his salary there will be $250k.

Vanasco was with the Rangers for his whole career until last season, but the Dodgers acquired him on June 1 after he was designated off the 40-man roster. The Dodgers did the same to him about a month later in July, but he stuck around for the rest of the season and hit minor-league free agency.

Back in June, Josh took a deep dive into the acquisition, which is worth a read.

So what do the Dodgers see in Vanasco? Well, there’s an exceptionally quick arm that has registered a fastball as hard as 99.6 mph, and it’s a pitch he appears to really backspin for carry. The 6’3, 180 lbs righty also has a power curve, a slider, and a changeup, though it’s the fastball in particular that interests me.

A guy with development potential who took off during his time with the Dodgers when he moved from starting to relieving. He likely impressed them by making the necessary adjustments and putting up a 1.24 ERA with a 35% K-rate and 8% BB-rate over 29 innings between AA and AAA with the team, holding batters to a .555 OPS against.

Vanasco was especially stingy over the final few months.

He added two more scoreless outings over 2.2 innings, including three whiffs and a walk, as the setup man in the Pacific Coast League championship run of the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

The 25-year-old has yet to make his major league debut, but has used up two of his three option years over the last two seasons. Regardless, he’s obviously a candidate to be optioned again if he doesn’t come into Spring Training ready to go. Injuries have been a problem for him, as Vanasco had Tommy John surgery in 2021 and missed time in 2023 as well, which weirdly almost makes him more of a fit for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers seem to believe the changes that led to Vanasco’s stellar relief performance are legit, so it’s hard to argue with the evaluation of a development team that has certainly proved themselves. The team now has 39 players on its 40-man roster, so expect some others to get the axe as free agency gets underway.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times