Dodgers first offseason signing already feels like 2024 will be more of the same

Spring Training
Spring Training / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

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 signed pitcher Ricky Vanasco, who was in the team's farm system last year after being poached from the Texas Rangers. Not only was Vanasco the Dodgers' first offseason signing ... he was the first in all of the league. He pitched in only 32.1 minor-league innings in 2023.

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 the Dodgers aren't ready to make splashes left and right in free agency or the trade market. They've eternally been linked to Shohei Ohtani, Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell and Aaron Nola recently joined that conversation. Something big is aligning for LA.

But the Vanasco signing represents what's held the Dodgers back under the Friedman era. It's a cheap low-risk, high-reward move accompanied by high expectations. It's right in line with every single bounce-back injury signing Friedman's made to try and improve the bullpen.

Dodgers sign Ricky Vanasco and 2024 is already starting to feel like more of the same

We'll be the first to say the Dodgers bullpen requires more stability and that Vanasco looks like he has stuff that would immediately play in the bigs, but this is a lottery ticket move at best. Vanasco has only appeared in 79 games since debuting in 2017 and missed all of 2020 and 2021 due to Tommy John surgery.

Dodgers fans are undoubtedly hopeful the flamethrowing right-hander harnesses his arsenal and becomes a key reliever for the 2024 team, but how many times are we going to play this game? It didn't work with injured veterans Alex Reyes, Daniel Hudson and Blake Treinen in 2023. It didn't work with Tommy Kahnle in 2022 or Jimmy Nelson since 2019. And those were guys with ample MLB experience.

Until the Dodgers start dropping bombs with mega signings and blockbuster trades, it'll hard to for fans to feel differently after they witnessed three straight heartbreaking flameouts in the postseason ever since the 2020 World Series triumph.

The main issue is that this is the bleakest the Dodgers' roster has looked in quite some time. Typically, an addition like Vanasco wouldn't raise this many alarm bells, but there isn't really any room for an unknown commodity like him at the moment. But Friedman went ahead and did it anyway.

Again, we hope we're wrong.