Incoming Los Angeles Dodgers roster crunch! Could be any minute now. After adding outfielder David Peralta and reliever Alex Reyes on big-league deals, LA followed suit on Wednesday by sneakily re-signing reliever Jimmy Nelson to an MLB contract.
That's three new players and no room on the 40-man roster. And Nelson! Again! He's been with the Dodgers now for FOUR straight seasons, but has pitched in only 29 total innings due to various injuries.
Nelson collected $1.75 million in the shortened 2020 season despite not pitching at all because of a back injury. Then he impressed with those 29 innings in 2021 (he made $1.25 million) before succumbing to Tommy John surgery in August of that year.
The following offseason, the Dodgers brought back the right-hander on a one-year, $700K contract with a team option for the 2023 season (worth $1.1 million). Nelson didn't pitch at all in 2022 as he recovered from the surgery and then the Dodgers rejected his team option in November.
Three months later, he's back, and the Dodgers guaranteed him an extra $100K in addition to a possible $2.8 million in incentives. Can somebody explain the logic here?
Dodgers re-signing Jimmy Nelson is confusing after they rejected his team option
The only explanation we can muster for rejecting his team option and then re-signing him is that the Dodgers wanted to take a few months to see if Nelson was healthy enough to pitch in 2023, especially as they were conducting a payroll crunch in November.
Then again, you'd think the Dodgers would have learned by now. They've been burned by Nelson himself a few times. The Tommy Kahnle deal was a disaster. Whatever's going on with Blake Treinen has killed them. They have other injury concerns with Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol and JP Feyereisen.
Nelson, once Opening Day arrives, will not have pitched in at least 20 months. Treinen is probably out for the year. They're relying on Shelby Miller to provide quality innings. Daniel Hudson is coming off a torn ACL (and now has an ankle issue). It's unclear how Evan Phillips will respond to an elevated role (despite the optimism). Need we go on?
The bullpen is already in a precarious situation. Though Nelson's small sample size of a workload with LA was promising, it's hard to envision that being replicated, even in a deemphasized role. Pitchers who undergo Tommy John typically don't deliver results until their second year performing after the procedure.
Here's to hoping Alex Reyes returns to his All-Star form, we guess.