The Dodgers took a flier on Jimmy Nelson in January when they signed him to a one-year contract with an option. Nelson was one of the National League’s best pitchers in 2017 before shoulder and elbow injuries derailed his career. The ceiling was high.
But Nelson’s career as a Dodger might be over before it starts. The club announced the right-hander will undergo lumbar surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Nelson, 31, posted a 3.49 earned-run average and 199 strikeouts in 175 1/3 innings with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. He finished ninth in the NL Cy Young Award voting. But he partially tore the labrum and strained the rotator cuff in his right shoulder sliding headfirst into a base at the end of the season.
The injuries required surgery, and he didn’t pitch in a major league game again until June 2019. He appeared in 10 games last season, making three starts, and pitched to a 6.95 ERA in 22 innings.
Nelson reported to spring training in February vying for a spot in the Dodgers’ bullpen but was shut down early with groin and lower back injuries.
His contract had guaranteed him $1.25 million this year before the season was cut short — a base salary of $750,000 and a $500,000 buyout if his $2-million option for 2021 wasn’t vested. The prorated value of the $750,000 base salary is about $277,500.