Ricky Vanasco’s spent June on the Dodgers 40-man roster and the rest of the season in the minors. The right-hander switched from starting to relief this season, and found success in the bullpen.
The right-hander, drafted out of high school by the Rangers in the 15th round in 2017, was added to the Texas 40-man roster in November 2021 after Tommy John surgery wiped out that minor league season for him.
Vanasco began this season with Double-A Frisco, which is where he ended 2022, but after two short starts he missed six and a half weeks on the injured list. The Rangers designated Vanasco for assignment on May 29, then traded him to the Dodgers two days later in exchange for minor league left-hander Luis Valdez, then a 19-year-old in Low-A.
If you’re building a Kevin Bacon-style game for Dodgers roster connections, the corresponding transaction to add Vanasco to the 40-man roster was fellow 2023 minor league pickup Zack Burdi getting designated for assignment.
Vanasco switched to relief with the Dodgers, and after some time in Arizona he was added to Double-A Tulsa’s bullpen on June 28. After just one game with the Drillers, Vanasco was designated for assignment by the Dodgers, removing him from the 40-man roster. He was in roster limbo for less than a week, but cleared waivers and was sent outright to the minors, and he pitched for two more months with Tulsa before getting the call to Triple-A Oklahoma City on September 12.
Counting the postseason, Vanasco had a 1.14 ERA — in addition to the four earned runs, Vanasco gave up seven unearned runs; including those would mean a still-productive 3.13 RA — and a 35-percent strikeout rate in 31⅔ innings between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. That included seven scoreless appearances in Triple-A with nine strikeouts and two walks in eight innings.
Stats: 1.24 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, 29 IP, 42 K, 10 BB in Tulsa/OKC
Salary: in minors all year (minimum salary for non-first-year players on a 40-man roster in 2023 was $117,400, per the collective bargaining agreement)
Game of the year
With runners on second and third with one out in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the Pacific Coast League championship series, Vanasco relieved Gavin Stone and retired all five batters he faced. One of the outs was a sacrifice fly, though Oklahoma City’s still enjoyed a three-run advantage.
Vanasco struck out two in the outing, pitching his second night in a row in setting up closer Wander Suero. Oklahoma City swept the championship series in two games.
Off the 40-man roster and with seven years of minor league service to his credit, Vanasco became a minor league free agent on November 6. But he re-signed with the Dodgers on a major league deal on November 16. Vanasco has yet to appear in the majors and has one option year remaining, having used options in 2022 and 2023.