Though we recently talked about all the questionable investments from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the last few years, the situation involving Jimmy Nelson deserves its own case study. It'll go down in history among diehards as one of the most bizarre obsessions with a middling player.
Nelson, 33, has been with the Dodgers since the 2020 season. However, he's only pitched 29 total innings with the team (and has thrown a total of just 51 since the start of 2018). The poor guy has dealt with injury issue after injury issue and we can't imagine the difficulties he's experienced along the way.
But Andrew Friedman and Co. continue to make micro-investments in the right-hander to no avail. Nelson's been paid $2.7 million total from 2020-2022 and he pitched just a fraction of one of those seasons.
When LA first brought Nelson to LA, he was injured. They bit the bullet for 2020. Then, he pitched to a 1.86 ERA, 1.89 FIP and 0.93 WHIP in those 29 innings in 2021 before going down and requiring Tommy John surgery late that season.
Now, here's where if officially gets "weird." Knowing Nelson would probably miss all of 2022, the Dodgers gave him a one-year deal for 2022 with a team option for 2023. They guaranteed him $700K to not pitch at all and then rejected his team option. OK, lesson learned, right?
Not quite! After rejecting Nelson's $1.1 million team option, the Dodgers re-signed him to a $1.2 million contract for 2023. They gave him a $100K raise! For nothing! And now he's starting the 2023 season on the injured list because he's still not ready.
What's the Dodgers' obsession with Jimmy Nelson all about?
Nelson's been on the shelf for a year and a half now and has gotten destroyed in his first action this Spring Training. In five appearances, he's only been able to log 2.1 innings of work. He's walked 11 batters and owns a 15.43 ERA and 5.14 WHIP. Those stats are almost impossible to comprehend.
This is by no means a knock on Nelson. The man is going through it. This is an indictment on the Dodgers' decision making, because they'd rather make failed micro investments instead of surefire macro ones (like passing on Trea Turner, Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, and many others in free agency).
Instead of paying proven commodities when given ample chances to do so as the second-richest organization in the sport, the front office continues to dance around larger commitments in an attempt to operate, at times, like a small-market club. Though Friedman hits on some and fans value his approach, perhaps his experience with the Rays needs to take a back seat more often than not at this juncture of his career with the Dodgers.
Fans wish the best for Nelson, who deserves a proper comeback and a positive experience on the mound once he's able and ready.
Fans also wish that the Dodgers would make steadfast bullpen additions so we're not entering every season wondering what the case will be on a weekly basis.