Could Dodgers recent minor-league signing be another bullpen reclamation project?

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The Dodgers love a good project. A player they can pluck out from a heap and transform, whose career is all but finished before they swoop in to unleash something new and potentially very dangerous. Max Muncy, who joins Kyle Schwarber in a strange camp where batting averages are low but home run rates are high, is a good example; he was DFA'ed and released by the A's in 2017 before the Dodgers picked him up and he promptly went on to hit 35 home runs in his first season in LA.

Jesse Hahn was the most recent, a reliever who's been out of the major leagues since 2021 and who the Dodgers just signed to a minor-league deal, before quickly being supplanted by Stephen Gonsalves who, per JP Hoornstra of Dodgers Nation, will also join the team on a minor-league deal.

Dodgers sign lefty reliever and longtime farmhand Stephen Gonsalves to a minor league deal

Gonsalves' path to the show has been tumultuous. Signed by the Twins in the fourth round of the 2013 Amateur Draft, Gonsalves only put up 23 2/3 innings of major league work for them over seven seasons. Otherwise, he went through the ringer in the Twins organization, bouncing up and down and back again through the minor league levels before being DFA'ed and picked up by the Mets on waivers in 2019. After another DFA there, he went to the Red Sox, where he pitched only 4 1/3 innings in the majors in 2021, then signed a minor league deal with the Cubs. In 2023, he slid down the minor league rungs, from Triple-A all the way down to rookie ball to close out the season.

Gonsalves' persistence and desire to remain in baseball is admirable, even if it's very hard to see what the Dodgers are seeing in him. However, given the Dodgers' track record of rehabilitation, there's a non-zero chance he'll level up in their minor league system, too. Could he be the next Evan Phillips, who was DFA'ed by the Rays in 2021 and is now the Dodgers' second highest-paid reliever? Most signs are pointing to no, but it would be the zero-to-hero story of the century if yes.