Ferguson, 27, joins a new organization for the first time in his career. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 2014 and has been with them ever since. He made his debut in 2018, starting his first three major league outings before being moved to a relief role. Apart from some occasional starts as an opener, he’s stayed in the bullpen ever since.
The results have been quite strong, with Ferguson making 96 appearances from 2018 to 2020, tossing 112 1/3 innings while allowing 3.93 earned runs per nine. He struck out 29.1% of batters faced in that time, gave out walks at an 8.7% clip and kept 44% of batted balls on the ground. Unfortunately, he required Tommy John surgery in September of 2020, wiping out the remainder of that campaign and preventing him from pitching at all in 2021.
He has since returned to the mound and has produced fairly similar statistics to before his injury layoff. In 126 appearances over 2022 and 2023, he has 113 2/3 innings pitched with a 2.85 ERA. He struck out 27.5% of opponents in that time, walking 8.8% of them and getting grounders at a 48% clip. Those results have come with Ferguson moving to higher leverage appearances, as he earned seven holds in 2022 and 17 last year.
He is now in his final season of club control, slated for free agency after the upcoming season in which he’ll make a salary of $2.4MM. This is the second left-handed reliever that has gone from the Dodgers to the Yankees this offseason, with Victor González having been dealt to the Bronx in December.
The Yankees have used Wandy Peralta as their primary lefty out of the bullpen in recent years, but he became a free agent this offseason and signed with the Padres last week. They now have Ferguson and González as their top southpaw relievers, alongside righties Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loáisiga and Tommy Kahnle.
Gage, 31 next week, will give the Dodgers another lefty to replace Ferguson, but one with a more limited track record. Gage has made 16 big league appearances over the past two years, suiting up for the Astros and Blue Jays, with a 1.83 ERA in a tiny sample of 19 2/3 innings. He spent most of last year’s with Houston’s Triple-A club, tossing 37 1/3 innings at that level with a 4.58 ERA, 23.4% strikeout rate, 12% walk rate and 41.5% ground ball rate. New York claimed him off waivers from the Astros last week.
For now, it appears the trade will be 40-man neutral. By sending Gage to the Dodgers, the Yanks opened up a 40-man spot for Ferguson. The Dodgers are also reportedly signing Ryan Brasier, so they will still need to open a spot for him but could perhaps do so by designating Gage or some other player for assignment.
For the Yanks, they upgrade their bullpen for the 2024 season while giving up a bit of future value in Zazueta, a 19-year-old who posted a 3.29 ERA in the DSL last year. The Dodgers, meanwhile, were going to be facing a roster squeeze with the Brasier signing and have used one year of Ferguson’s services to give them an extra prospect and some more roster flexibility. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them pursue a different lefty at this point, as they are now down to Alex Vesia, Ryan Yarbrough and Gage as their southpaw relievers.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported the Yankees were acquiring Ferguson. The Post’s Joel Sherman reported the Dodgers were acquiring two players, one in the upper minors and one nowhere near the majors. Heyman reported Gage’s inclusion.