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Dodgers sign Caleb Ferguson, avoid salary arbitration

LHP missed entire 2021 season after Tommy John surgery

MLB: SEP 02 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dodgers signed pitcher Caleb Ferguson to a one-year deal, avoiding salary arbitration with the left-hander who missed the entire 2021 season.

Tuesday was the deadline for players and teams to exchange figures for salary arbitration, revised upon the new collective bargaining agreement that ended MLB’s 99-day lockout. The Dodgers settled all three of their remaining arb cases on Tuesday — in addition to Ferguson, shortstop Trea Turner got $21 million, and pitcher Julio Urías reached a deal for $8 million.

Ferguson was one of the Dodgers’ best relief pitchers in 2020, with a 2.89 ERA, 3.59 FIP and 36-percent strikeout rate. But he suffered an elbow injury two weeks before the playoffs, ending his season early. Ferguson had Tommy John surgery on September 22, 2020, which also knocked him out of 2021 as well.

It was the second Tommy John surgery for Ferguson.

The 2022 Dodgers bullpen will have two pitchers who missed all of 2021 after Tommy John surgery. Veteran right-hander Tommy Kahnle, who had his elbow procedure on August 4, 2020, signed a two-year, $4.75 million contract with the Dodgers last December.

Dave Roberts told reporters in Arizona on March 14 that Ferguson and Kahnle aren’t expected to be quite ready for opening day.

The presence of Ferguson and Kahnle was mentioned by Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman as why he’s bullish on next year’s bullpen despite Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Corey Knebel, and Jimmy Nelson in free agency this offseason.

“I’ve never in my career been in this good a position regarding the bullpen when the offseason starts,” Friedman told reporters in his end-of-season press conference on October 27. “It allows us to be a little more selective in terms of who we’re targeting.”

With three years, 93 days of major league service time, this was Ferguson’s first time eligible for salary arbitration. He made $600,500 in 2021, 5.3 percent over the minimum. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors in his salary arbitration projections had Ferguson making $700,000 in 2022, but that was before the new CBA significantly raised minimum salaries. His new salary of $762,500 is 8.9 percent over the 2022 minimum salary

Ferguson turned 25 in July.

The Dodgers drafted the left-hander in the 38th round in 2014, when he was rehabbing from his first elbow reconstruction procedure. In parts of three major league seasons, Ferguson has a 3.93 ERA, 104 ERA+, and 4.26 FIP, with 140 strikeouts and 42 walks in 112⅓ innings.