Dodgers Decline Vesting Option on Jimmy Nelson

(Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)

While many folks close to the team are still reveling in the franchise’s first World Series Championship since 1988, the Dodgers got down to business on the transaction side of things on Friday, announcing that they have declined the option for veteran pitcher Jimmy Nelson.

For some, it almost feels like a lifetime ago when Los Angeles signed Nelson to bolster an otherwise questionable rotation, or worst-case scenario, strengthen a bullpen that seemingly had several holes.

When he was signed by the team in January, Nelson accepted a one-year deal for $1.25 million with a vesting option for 2021. But, if he would have stayed healthy, incentives could have paid him up to $3 million for the 2020 season. His base salary for 2021 would have been $2 million.

By declining the option, the team was required to pay Nelson a $500,000 buyout fee.

Early in the first round of spring training, it appeared that Nelson would make the team in some shape or form since he had no options remaining on his contract. However, by the time summer camp rolled around, he was dealing with problems in both his back and his groin. Several weeks before the shortened season began in July, the team announced he would have season-ending back surgery before he even threw a pitch.

The 6-foot-6, 250-lb. righty was originally selected by the Brewers out of the University of Alabama in the second round of the 2020 MLB draft. His best year as a big leaguer came in 2017 when he went 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA and 199 strikeouts over 29 starts and 179-1/3 innings of work.

Over the course of his six-year, major league career, he has gone 33-46 with a 4.22 ERA, a 4.11 FIP and a 1.372 WHIP. He has struck out 578 batters and allowed 240 walks in 119 games and 633-1/3 innings of work. He has a career ERA+ of 99. His lifetime walk ratio sits at 3.41 BB/9. He has never posted an annual bWAR over 0.0.

Nelson missed the entire 2018 season after having surgery for a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. He dealt with significant elbow issues in 2019, pitching in just 22 innings over 10 games, three of which were starts. Over those 22 innings, he issued 17 walks.

For those who were following the team closely at the time, the news on Nelson came just days after lefty starter David Price announced that he opted out of the 2020 season, presumably opening the door for lefty Alex Wood to join the rotation.

It was chaotic at the time, as Walker Buehler was behind schedule, and Clayton Kershaw was scratched on Opening Day after dealing with back tightness, causing the team to bring in youngster Dustin May to start the opener against the Giants.

3 thoughts on “Dodgers Decline Vesting Option on Jimmy Nelson

  1. Now that you’ve made me go over our pre-season pitching situation Dennis, it’s obvious to me that we don’t have enough pitching to win the World Series in 2020. Funny how things work out sometimes.

  2. It was a forgone conclusion they were not going to pick up his option. I would have liked to have seen what he could have contributed. But much like Wood, the injury changed all of that. I wonder how different things would have been had Wood been totally healthy.

  3. Bad news for the Red Sox, Martinez chose not to opt out so not only do they owe the Dodgers 16 Mil for Prices deal, now they are on the hook for Martinez huge contract too.

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