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Dodgers minor league free agents include Ricky Vanasco, Tyler Cyr, Yonny Hernández

The Dodgers acquired Ricky Vanasco in a trade with the Rangers on June 1, 2023, and he spent a month on the 40-man roster before finishing the season in the minors.
The Dodgers acquired Ricky Vanasco in a trade with the Rangers on June 1, 2023, and he spent a month on the 40-man roster before finishing the season in the minors.
Eddie Kelly / ProLook Photos

The coming of the offseason brings free agency, but not just for major league players. Hundreds of minor leaguers are now free agents as well. Among them are infielder Yonny Hernández plus pitchers Ricky Vanasco and Tyler Cyr, who ended their 2023 seasons off of the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.

The Dodgers have 16 free agents on the major league side, the most of any major league team. That includes Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Daniel Hudson, and Alex Reyes, who had their 2024 options declined by the team over the weekend.

On the minor league side, players reach free agency once they have reached seven years of minor league service unless they are added to the 40-man roster at the end of the season. Notable in recent years is that players are given credit for 2020 as a service year even though no minor league season was played.

Vanasco was a 15th-round pick of the Rangers in 2017, so 2023 was his seventh minor league season. He was on the 40-man roster this year, and was traded to the Dodgers on June 1 for minor league left-hander Luis Valdez. Vanasco spent all of June on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster before getting designated for assignment. After clearing waivers, Vanasco was sent outright to the minors on July 5.

Vanasco impressed in the Dodgers’ system, with a 1.14 ERA in 31⅔ innings with 45 strikeouts and 11 walks and a 35-percent strikeout rate. That included finishing the year with seven scoreless appearances in Triple-A Oklahoma City, including the playoffs, with nine strikeouts and two walks in eight innings.

Because the Dodgers traded a minor league pitcher for him and that Vanasco impressed down the stretch and was hitting 97-98 mph with Oklahoma City, I thought they might have added Vanasco to the 40-man roster, on which there is currently 35 players. But considering the Dodgers figure to be very active this winter both on the pitching and position-player sides, roster space is precious at the moment.

J.J. Cooper at Baseball America has the full list of 573 minor league free agents this year, including 27 Dodgers:

Justin Yurchak, 1B
Bryson Brigman, 2B
Pat Valaika, 2B
Kenneth Betancourt, 2B
Yonny Hernandez, 3B
David Freitas, C
Tucker Barnhart, C
Hamlet Marte, C
Wladimir Chalo, C
Steven Duggar, CF
Imanol Vargas, OF
Ismael Alcantara, OF
David Dahl, RF
Oscar Mercado, RF
Yusniel Diaz, RF
Luis Yanel Diaz, SS
James Jones, LHP
Robbie Erlin, LHP
Mike Montgomery, LHP
Matt Andriese, RHP
Ricky Vanasco, RHP
Tyler Cyr, RHP
Ken Giles, RHP
Mark Washington, RHP
Aldry Acosta, RHP
Reinaldo De Paula, RHP
Adolfo Ramirez, RHP

Notable among this group are Cyr and Hernández, both of whom played in the majors with the Dodgers this season, albeit briefly. The switch-hitting Hernández played in 14 games and was sent outright to the minors and off the 40-man roster on September 1. Cyr pitched in two games in May before spending the rest of the season on the 60-day injured list with a right shoulder impingement. He was outrighted off the 40-man roster on October 31.

Neither Hernández nor Cyr had the required three years of major league service time or a previous time getting outrighted to refuse a minor league assignment. But both had at least seven years in the minors, which earned them free agency this week.

Other Dodgers minor leaguers accelerated their free agency either with enough service time or by having been previously outrighted. Pitchers Tyson Miller, Jake Reed, and Zack Burdi elected free agency in October, and Wander Suero elected free agency after getting outrighted on October 19.