The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Jimmy Nelson will undergo surgery on his low back (lumbar) on Tuesday, July 7. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Robert Watkins and put an end to Nelson’s 2020 season before it can begin.
Injuries have been a theme for Nelson in recent years as he dealt with a shoulder issue that cost him all of the 2018 season and most of 2019 after a breakout 2017 campaign. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the back trouble was a lingering issue for much of spring and the team never quite managed to get him healthy.
The Milwaukee Brewers made the difficult decision of non-tendering Nelson at the beginning of the past offseason, paving the way for him to test free agency for the first time.
It’s no secret the Dodgers are always looking for starting pitching depth, so they took a chance on Nelson by signing him to a one-year, $1.25 million contract this past January that also includes an option for the 2020 season.
While Nelson’s ceiling remains very high as a big-league pitcher, 2020 is another year of his career that will be lost due to injuries. He reported to Spring Training in February hoping to win a spot in the starting rotation although was very limited in the spring due to the back issue.
David Price recently announced he will be sitting out the 2020 season due to health concerns, opening a spot in the rotation.
With Nelson no longer an option to replace him, it appears that the fifth spot in the rotation will come down to Ross Stripling, Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin. The other four spots will be occupied by Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Alex Wood, if healthy.
Something to keep an eye on this offseason will be if the Dodgers choose to pick up Nelson’s option or if he is back on the free-agent market this winter. A lot of that depends on how his surgery goes, although given his injury history, it would not be surprising to see him back on the open market even if his surgery and rehab go well in the next few months.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!