Dodgers latest trade acquisition is the ultimate buy-low candidate

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

We have a trade! On Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers conducted some business with the Texas Rangers and added to their minor-league pitching depth. Not a bad idea, since they probably need more bodies down there because Bobby Miller looks like a keeper at the MLB level.

Los Angeles acquired pitcher Rick Vanasco from Texas for fellow minor-league pitcher Luis Valdez. The Dodgers added Vanasco to their 40-man roster and designated pitcher Zack Burdi for assignment.

Vanasco, the ultimate buy-low candidate, seems like the perfect low-risk addition for the Dodgers, who love resurrecting poor play and saving young pitchers from going too far off course in their careers.

The right-hander was on track to be a promising future piece for the Rangers, but the canceled COVID season and Tommy John surgery saw him pitch in just 11 games from 2019-2021. He returned in 2022 and got promoted to Double-A after 21 starts (4.48 ERA and 1.48 WHIP) at High-A.

But Vanasco's four career starts at Double-A have been terrible. Between 2022 and 2023, he owns a 10.45 ERA and 2.32 WHIP in just 10.1 innings of work. He lost the first two months of this year because he needed knee surgery, He returned about a week and a half ago.

Dodgers trade for Rangers pitcher Ricky Vanasco, put him on 40-man roster

So what do the Dodgers see here? Well, before Vanasco saw his career upended as a 20-year-old, he made 11 starts between Low-A and Single-A, recording a 1.81 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 75 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. And the good news is that his torrid strikeout pace has not slowed -- in 2022, he fanned 118 batters in 92.1 innings.

His issues seem to be an incredibly high walk rate (5 BB/9) and the lack of an above-average third offering next to his mid-90s fastball and promising breaking pitch -- both areas that certainly didn't get any aid as he missed two full seasons of work between 2020 and 2021.

But here come to the Dodgers to the rescue, and all they had to give up was Valdez, who is still working through his game in his age-19 season. The left-hander has ways to go and has logged just 66.2 total innings in 24 games (21 starts) since debuting with the organization in 2021.

Instead of waiting at least three years for Valdez, the Dodgers opted for a minor-league reclamation project that could pay dividends as early as 2024. Let's see how it works out for them, Cotton.