Days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Arizona, the Dodgers’ bullpen situation became a little more clear Monday.
The team and veteran reliever Ryan Brasier reportedly agreed to a two-year, $9-million contract to keep the right-hander in Los Angeles after his resurgent performance last season.
In a related move, the Dodgers also traded left-hander Caleb Ferguson to the New York Yankees for left-hander Matt Gage and right-hander Christian Zazueta Jr., the team announced.
Brasier, 36, returns to the Dodgers after emerging as the club’s top set-up man over the second half of last season. Originally an Angels draft pick who spent most of his seven-year MLB career with the Boston Red Sox, Brasier was released by Boston last May following early-season struggles and signed with the Dodgers in June.
In Los Angeles, he added a cutter that reinvigorated his pitching arsenal, then quickly established himself as one of the team’s most trusted relievers, giving up just three earned runs in 39 outings with the club (a miniscule 0.70 ERA).
While his re-signing didn’t come until the end of the offseason, the sides had expressed mutual interest in a reunion all winter.
Ferguson, 27, never quite reached the same heights during a five-year tenure with the Dodgers. Though the former 38th-round draft pick managed an unexpected rise to the big leagues and posted a solid 3.43 ERA over his time with the team (which included a year-long recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2021), he battled inconsistency in high-leverage situations last season, failing to ever fully separate himself from the club’s other left-handed relievers.
With Brasier back and Ferguson gone, the Dodgers bullpen hierarchy now seems to be falling into place.
Evan Phillips remains the most trusted back-end option, in line to reprise his role as the closer after earning 24 saves last year.
Brasier and fellow right-hander Brusdar Graterol figure to highlight the club’s other primary high-leverage options. Joe Kelly was also re-signed earlier in the winter, giving the team another hard-throwing weapon on the back-end.
Alex Vesia is now the only late-inning lefty remaining from last year’s team . Gage has given up four earned runs in 19 ⅔ innings with the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros the last two years.
Monday’s news was first reported by the New York Post.