Jimmy Nelson signs low-risk deal with the Dodgers

While the news about the Red Sox allegedly cheating in 2018 is understandably sure to get plenty of attention, the Dodgers also just signed former Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson.

A little less than two weeks ago, Dustin laid out the case for signing him.

“If they’re going to go the high-upside route and don’t want to pay for it — prospect or money-wise — then Jimmy Nelson might be the guy the Dodgers seek. Nelson, 30, is coming off an abbreviated 2019 season as he recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him the entire 2018 season and an elbow injury that kept out from June 26 until Sept. 5 (after not making his 2019 debut in the minors until May 3).”

“With the Dodgers ability to limit pitchers’ workloads, Nelson could be a guy they deploy as a starter, a reliever or a multi-inning guy. In fact, if the signed Nelson and brought Hill back, that’d be a pretty interesting tandem, with each guy going 3-4 innings every 4-5 days or so. But the ultimate intention should be to see if he can get back to being an every-fifth-day guy.”

There’s a lot more there you should revisit in Dustin’s post in light of Nelson, 30, actually joining the Dodgers.

Since much of the player analysis has already been covered, here’s a bit on the contract. The basics are it is a 1-year deal plus a vesting mutual option in 2021 for Nelson. The guarantee is a little more than $1 million, but Nelson can surpass that in a variety of ways. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy has the details here:

As McCalvy laid out, the contract can reach more than $13 million over two years if every incentive is hit in 2020. It’s a pretty low-risk move for the Dodgers, especially with the 2021 option only reaching a maximum of $9 million. McCalvy’s note that Nelson’s option moves to $5 million for 60 innings OR 40 games pitched is interesting in terms of how the Dodgers plan to use him in 2020.

Nelson finished the 2017 season 8th among pitchers with 4.8 WAR in addition to finishing with the 5th-best FIP among qualified pitchers. Could that have been a one-off and the best Nelson, entering his age 31-season, will ever produce? Sure, especially when from 2013-16 he combined for 3.3 WAR in 436 innings. But even if that is the case, this is a logical upside move and one that should not prevent the Dodgers from doing something else.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.