Ever since the news broke that Wandy Peralta and Keynan Middleton wouldn’t be returning to New York, it seemed likely that the Yankees would bring in another reliever. Reunions had been discussed with both those players, but they didn’t come to pass. They’re instead off to San Diego and St. Louis, respectively.
With more free agent relief options off the board, the Yankees decided to turn to the trade market. In fact, they turned to the same source that provided them with their most recent bullpen addition: the Los Angeles Dodgers. Back in December, the Yanks helped LA clear room for Shohei Ohtani on their roster by sending Double-A shortstop Trey Sweeney to the Land of Koufax in exchange for southpaw Victor González and another infield prospect, Jorbit Vivas.
As far as we know, the Dodgers aren’t about to add another superstar (sorry to Ryan Brasier, I suppose), but they have sent another lefty to the Bronx. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman was the first to report that Caleb Ferguson was being traded to the Yankees.
Caleb Ferguson is being traded to Yankees— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 5, 2024
Although the Dodgers’ return has not yet been revealed, Heyman’s colleague at the Post, Joel Sherman, reported that it would not be a terribly high cost. Shortly therafter, Heyman revealed that the Quad-A fellow alluded in Sherman’s tweet was Matt Gage, who the Yankees recently claimed from the Astros.
Haven't been told the names of the prospects, but were described to me as a faraway prospect who has pitched in the Dominican Summer League the past few years and a Quadruple-A type pitcher. https://t.co/4S2nDI33ko— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 5, 2024
Matt Gage goes to Dodgers as part of the trade https://t.co/JHCqdvX8Od— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 5, 2024
Gage and a DSL arm in exchange for needed bullpen support is certainly a sensible trade.
We’ll have a more detailed report on Ferguson later (likely tomorrow), but the skinny is that he’s a 27-year-old who did pretty well for himself considering that he was drafted in a round that doesn’t exist anymore. The Dodgers picked Ferguson as a prep arm out of West Jefferson High School in Ohio during the 38th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He was a starter in the Dodgers’ system, but aside from a few games early in his 2018 debut, he has primarily been a reliever — albeit a reliever who has served as an opener on quite a few occasions.
Ferguson did have to miss out on the Dodgers’ run to a championship in 2020, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in September and was out for all of 2021 as well. He had a 1.82 ERA, 3.00 FIP, and 1.018 WHIP in 34.2 innings upon returning in the late spring of 2022 though, and he put in a commendable 3.43 ERA last year in 68 games and 60.1 innings, career-highs at the MLB level. This is a one-year shot, as like Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Tommy Kahnle, Ferguson will be a free agent following the 2024 campaign.
Notably, Ferguson is not just a same-hand specialist, as he can tackle both righties and lefties. They hit about the same against him in 2023, and in 2022, he actually had a reverse split with righties putting up just a .521 OPS in 98 plate appearances. The mid-90s four-seamer is his bread-and-butter, and he threw a cutter 30.7 percent of the time in 2023 as well. Ferguson generated a 49.1-percent ground-ball rate last year, and he fanned 25.9 percent of batters who faced him while doing a good job of keeping the ball in the yard. He’s just a solid guy to have out in the ‘pen.
Welcome to New York, Caleb!
The New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired LHP Caleb Ferguson from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for LHP Matt Gage and RHP Christian Zazueta.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 5, 2024
The deal is official, and the DSL arm going to the West Coast (or at least another complex, for now) is righty Christian Zazueta. A 19-year-old, he signed out of Mexico in January 2022 and has yet to pitch professionally stateside.