Dodgers ‘Completely Believe In’ Jimmy Nelson Despite Spring Training Struggles

The Los Angeles Dodgers predictably declined their team option on Jimmy Nelson for the 2023 season, but months later re-signed the right-hander to another one-year contract.

The deal represented the fourth contract Nelson signed with the Dodgers since getting non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers in December 2019. During that time he’s only pitched for the club during the 2021 season.

Nelson sidelined in 2020 after undergoing season-ending back surgery and he missed all of last year while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

His return to the mound in Spring Training has been filled with struggles, the latest of which surfaced in the Dodgers’ loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday. Manager Dave Roberts nevertheless made it clear to Kirsten Watson of SportsNet LA that the Dodgers remain confident in the veteran:

“It was a lot of encouraging. Myself and all of us really have to appreciate what he’s been through. Coming back from Tommy John, the execution and command, that’s going to come. I think for him, just kind of feeling like you’re letting guys down, that’s not the case. We completely believe in him. He’s going to figure it out, but it’s going to take some time. He’ll be fine.”

In five Spring Training appearances this year, Nelson has walked 11 of 21 batters faced, and also hit one.

Nelson particularly struggled on Sunday, as he threw 12 consecutive balls upon entering the game. The Athletics loaded the bases during that stretch on a pair of walks and one hit batter.

A wild pitch from Nelson allowed a run to score, and he issued a third walk prior to coming out of the game without retiring a batter.

Jimmy Nelson contract details

Nelson re-signed with the Dodgers for a $1.2 million salary, which exceeded the $1.1 million team option that had been declined. Furthermore, the deal is said to include incentives that could bring its total value to $4 million.

Had the Dodgers exercised their team option on Nelson, performance bonuses in 2023 could have meant a larger guarantee than what the 33-year-old theoretically may receive under his current deal.

Nelson is in position to $2 million in incentives based on relief appearances of three innings or less ($300,000 each for 35, 40, 45 and 50), and $400,000 each for 55 and 60. He additionally can receive up to $4 million through a system in which Nelson accrues one point for each start of relief appearance of 3.1 innings or more — $250,000 each for 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 points), and $500,000 for 22, 24, 26, 28 and 30.

Nelson’s career high for appearances is 32, which came as a member of the Brewers during the 2016 season. Nelson hasn’t averaged at least 3.1 innings per game since 2017 in what marked his last full year as a starting pitcher.

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