The Rangers have traded pitching prospect Ricky Vanasco to the Dodgers for minor league left-hander Luis Valdez, both teams announced. Los Angeles designated reliever Zack Burdi for assignment to free a spot on the 40-man roster.
Vanasco, 24, has yet to reach the majors. An overslot 15th round draftee out of high school six years ago, the 6’3″ hurler developed into one of the more interesting arms in the Texas farm system. Baseball America ranked him between 12th and 21st on the Rangers’ prospect list each season between 2020-22. He impressed evaluators with a mid-90s fastball and above-average to plus breaking pitch but faced questions about his command and third offering.
The Florida native had his career interrupted by both the canceled 2020 minor league season and a subsequent Tommy John surgery. He lost all of ’21 rehabbing but returned to make 23 starts in High-A last year. Vanasco posted a 4.68 ERA over 92 1/3 innings, striking out a quality 28.9% of opposing hitters but with an alarming 12.7% walk rate.
Vanasco was set to start this year in Double-A. A Spring Training knee injury required surgery and cost him the first two months of the season. He made it back in late May and started two games there. They haven’t gone as planned, as he’s failed to get out of the second inning in either appearance. He allowed ten runs (six earned) with four walks and two strikeouts over 2 1/3 combined frames before losing his 40-man position earlier this week.
The Dodgers will take a flier on Vanasco’s arsenal to see if he can hone in his command. He’s in his second of three minor league option years, so they can keep him in the minors for the foreseeable future if he holds his 40-man spot.
Los Angeles sends a 19-year-old southpaw the other way. Valdez signed with the Dodgers as an amateur out of Mexico two years ago. He’s logged 17 2/3 innings with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga this year, posting a 3.12 ERA with a 28.9% strikeout rate while walking nearly 17% of opponents.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs slotted him 29th among Dodger prospects over the offseason, praising a potential plus changeup but noting that his velocity presently sits in the upper-80s. He won’t be eligible for the Rule 5 draft until after the 2024 campaign.
Burdi gets squeezed off the roster within a week of being claimed from the Rays. He didn’t pitch in an MLB game for the Dodgers, making just one appearance in Triple-A. He’s pitched three times for Tampa Bay this season, allowing six runs in four innings. A former first round draftee, Burdi throws in the mid-90s and has paired high minor league strikeout tallies with lofty walk rates.
The Dodgers will have a week to trade him or put him on waivers. Burdi has gone unclaimed on waivers in his career before, so he’d have the right to elect minor league free agency if he clears the wire this time around.