Los Angeles Dodgers Make Surprising Offseason Signing
Concerns Arise as Dodgers Add Inexperienced Pitcher to Roster
We could be wrong. We’d love to be wrong, in fact. But with limited roster space ahead of an all-important offseason, some fans are wondering why the Los Angeles Dodgers just occupied the 39th spot with someone who’s never logged an MLB inning. And it wasn’t a Rule 5 Draft protection.
On Thursday, the Dodgers made a surprising move by signing pitcher Ricky Vanasco, who was previously in the team’s farm system after being acquired from the Texas Rangers. Vanasco’s signing not only marks the Dodgers’ first offseason move, but it also makes him the first signing in the entire league. However, Vanasco has only pitched in 32.1 minor-league innings in 2023 and has no MLB experience.
So let’s get this straight. No MLB experience. Let go by the World Series champs. Entering his age-25 season. What’re we missing? Or is this more, what some might say, “galaxy brain” Andrew Friedman bullpen patchwork?
This is not to assert that the Dodgers aren’t ready to make big moves in free agency or the trade market. They have been linked to notable players like Shohei Ohtani, Corbin Burnes, Willy Adames, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, and Aaron Nola. It seems that something big is aligning for LA.
However, the signing of Vanasco reflects a pattern that has held the Dodgers back under the Friedman era. It’s a cheap, low-risk, high-reward move accompanied by high expectations. This move falls in line with Friedman’s strategy of signing bounce-back injury players to improve the bullpen.
According to Blake Harris on Twitter, the biggest takeaway here is that the Dodgers signed Vanasco to a major league deal, indicating their strong interest in him. The team’s 40-man roster now sits at 39.
While it is acknowledged that the Dodgers bullpen requires more stability and Vanasco shows potential, this signing can be seen as a lottery ticket move at best. Vanasco has only appeared in 79 games since his debut in 2017 and missed the entire 2020 and 2021 seasons due to Tommy John surgery.
Dodgers fans are undoubtedly hopeful that Vanasco, a flamethrowing right-hander, will harness his arsenal and become a key reliever for the 2024 team. However, it raises the question of how many times the Dodgers will play this game. Similar strategies did not work with injured veterans Alex Reyes, Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen, Tommy Kahnle, and Jimmy Nelson, all of whom had ample MLB experience.
MLB Trade Rumors confirmed that Ricky Vanasco was the first free agent to sign a Major League contract this offseason.
Until the Dodgers make significant signings and blockbuster trades, it will be hard for fans to feel differently after witnessing three straight disappointing postseasons since their 2020 World Series triumph.
The main issue is that the Dodgers’ roster currently appears to be in its bleakest state in quite some time. While an addition like Vanasco wouldn’t usually raise many alarm bells, there isn’t much room for an unknown commodity like him at the moment. Nevertheless, Friedman went ahead and made the move.
Only time will tell if this signing proves to be a successful gamble for the Dodgers. For now, fans can only hope that their concerns are proven wrong.