Inside the Dodgers: How Jimmy Nelson may help the pitching staff

first_imgEnter … Jimmy Nelson?The Dodgers reportedly agreed to terms with the right-handed pitcher on a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2021. Nelson’s contract reportedly guarantees less money ($1 million) than the Twins gave Hill, but incentives can bring its value to $13 million over two years ― more than the Twins gave Hill. According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, these incentives would merely allow Nelson a chance to earn what he would have made in arbitration if the Brewers elected to keep him.Nelson, 30, missed all of 2018 and pitched only 22 innings in 2019 after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder. He was eligible for salary arbitration this winter. When the Brewers decided not to tender him a contract, Nelson became a free agent.Staying true to the hypothesis I put forth earlier, Nelson’s signing falls under point #2: Friedman signed a pitcher who can help absorb Hyun-Jin Ryu’s workload. Nelson might not help much. It’s not fair to expect him to pitch 187 ⅔ innings, like Ryu did in 2019. It is fair to expect him to throw more innings than Hill, given the uncertainty around Hill’s age (40) and surgery (“primary elbow repairs” didn’t exist 10 years ago). Nelson’s contract amounts to a low-risk wager, the kind that sometimes works out amazingly for the Dodgers (Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Brandon Morrow) and sometimes does not (Franklin Gutierrez, Brandon Beachy, Sergio Romo).It’s fair to ask why Nelson is getting this roster spot and not Hill, but no one ever accused this front office of putting practical concerns ahead of sentimentality. Nelson is 10 years younger than Hill. He’s being guaranteed less money. You can point out exceptions to every rule, but whenever a team opts against re-signing its own free agent, it’s fair to be skeptical: What do the Dodgers know about Rich Hill’s health that the Twins don’t? The same logic would apply to Nelson and the Brewers, of course, but the Brewers might have had to guarantee Nelson $13 million in arbitration whether or not his health cooperated. The Dodgers don’t. Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, Jan. 7 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.The question was there at the beginning of the off-season: how would the Dodgers fill out their starting rotation between now and spring training? It gained steam when Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees. It gained more steam when Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Blue Jays, then more when Rich Hill signed with the Twins. I first deployed the analogy of steam pressure building inside a valve back on Dec. 23, when I wrote about the implications of Ryu’s departure:If [president of baseball operations Andrew] Friedman was truly comfortable with his 2020 roster without Ryu, it’s probably owed to one of a few reasons: 1, the Dodgers’ internal projections for Ryu’s replacements (Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, possibly Ross Stripling) are bullish; 2, Friedman is confident he can sign or trade for a pitcher who can help absorb Ryu’s workload; 3, Friedman is confident he can sign or acquire a position player who will significantly upgrade a position of weakness (right field, according to ZiPS); 4, some combination of the above.The reasons to lament Hill’s departure were more sentimental than practical. Hill was already expected to miss the first few months of the season ― at least ― following elbow surgery. If he was going to be a major contributor to the 2020 Dodgers, it was going to be as a trade-deadline acquisition of sorts. Hill reinvigorated his career with the Dodgers, and his emotions showed when he addressed the media after signing for life-changing money at the 2016 Winter Meetings. Between Hill and Ryu, losing two fan favorites in the span of a week didn’t feel great. We also need to put this transaction in the context of an incomplete off-season. While the Dodgers don’t have to make another move to field a complete team in 2020, the Red Sox do have to make at least one move to get their payroll below the competitive balance tax threshold. (Cots estimates the Red Sox payroll at $226.9 million; the CBT kicks in at $208 million.) New GM Chaim Bloom doesn’t want to trade his best player to achieve his fiscal mandate but, unlike his former boss in Tampa Bay, Bloom isn’t in position to stand pat.To that end, the Dodgers can’t be alone in their zeal for Mookie Betts. That’s why we can’t discount the possibility that signing Nelson gives Friedman some leeway in his chats with Bloom. Does having Nelson allow Friedman to trade one of his other starting pitchers to Boston? Is David Price the left-handed starter the Dodgers were targeting to replace Hill and Ryu all along? Depending on how available Betts still is, I believe these are the more interesting questions today.-J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Bones sinking like stonesCheaters often prosper ― The Boston Red Sox reportedly used their video replay room to steal signs in 2018, in violation of MLB rules.In related news ― The Houston Astros players are likely to avoid punishment when MLB punishes the organization’s sign-stealing practices, according to ESPN.Bullpen help ― The Dodgers reportedly signed a four-year veteran to a minor-league contract.More than Bellinger ― Who are the Dodgers’ best draft picks of the 2010s?More than Lux ― Baseball America ranked the Dodgers’ Top 10 prospects.Tickets still remain ― Tommy Lasorda will be among the guests of honor at the annual PBSF dinner this Saturday in Beverly Hills.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

first_imgEnter … Jimmy Nelson?The Dodgers reportedly agreed to terms with the right-handed pitcher on a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2021. Nelson’s contract reportedly guarantees less money ($1 million) than the Twins gave Hill, but incentives can bring its value to $13 million over two years ― more than the Twins gave Hill. According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, these incentives would merely allow Nelson a chance to earn what he would have made in arbitration if the Brewers elected to keep him.Nelson, 30, missed all of 2018 and pitched only 22 innings in 2019 after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder. He was eligible for salary arbitration this winter. When the Brewers decided not to tender him a contract, Nelson became a free agent.Staying true to the hypothesis I put forth earlier, Nelson’s signing falls under point #2: Friedman signed a pitcher who can help absorb Hyun-Jin Ryu’s workload. Nelson might not help much. It’s not fair to expect him to pitch 187 ⅔ innings, like Ryu did in 2019. It is fair to expect him to throw more innings than Hill, given the uncertainty around Hill’s age (40) and surgery (“primary elbow repairs” didn’t exist 10 years ago). Nelson’s contract amounts to a low-risk wager, the kind that sometimes works out amazingly for the Dodgers (Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Brandon Morrow) and sometimes does not (Franklin Gutierrez, Brandon Beachy, Sergio Romo).It’s fair to ask why Nelson is getting this roster spot and not Hill, but no one ever accused this front office of putting practical concerns ahead of sentimentality. Nelson is 10 years younger than Hill. He’s being guaranteed less money. You can point out exceptions to every rule, but whenever a team opts against re-signing its own free agent, it’s fair to be skeptical: What do the Dodgers know about Rich Hill’s health that the Twins don’t? The same logic would apply to Nelson and the Brewers, of course, but the Brewers might have had to guarantee Nelson $13 million in arbitration whether or not his health cooperated. The Dodgers don’t. Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, Jan. 7 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.The question was there at the beginning of the off-season: how would the Dodgers fill out their starting rotation between now and spring training? It gained steam when Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees. It gained more steam when Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Blue Jays, then more when Rich Hill signed with the Twins. I first deployed the analogy of steam pressure building inside a valve back on Dec. 23, when I wrote about the implications of Ryu’s departure:If [president of baseball operations Andrew] Friedman was truly comfortable with his 2020 roster without Ryu, it’s probably owed to one of a few reasons: 1, the Dodgers’ internal projections for Ryu’s replacements (Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, possibly Ross Stripling) are bullish; 2, Friedman is confident he can sign or trade for a pitcher who can help absorb Ryu’s workload; 3, Friedman is confident he can sign or acquire a position player who will significantly upgrade a position of weakness (right field, according to ZiPS); 4, some combination of the above.The reasons to lament Hill’s departure were more sentimental than practical. Hill was already expected to miss the first few months of the season ― at least ― following elbow surgery. If he was going to be a major contributor to the 2020 Dodgers, it was going to be as a trade-deadline acquisition of sorts. Hill reinvigorated his career with the Dodgers, and his emotions showed when he addressed the media after signing for life-changing money at the 2016 Winter Meetings. Between Hill and Ryu, losing two fan favorites in the span of a week didn’t feel great. We also need to put this transaction in the context of an incomplete off-season. While the Dodgers don’t have to make another move to field a complete team in 2020, the Red Sox do have to make at least one move to get their payroll below the competitive balance tax threshold. (Cots estimates the Red Sox payroll at $226.9 million; the CBT kicks in at $208 million.) New GM Chaim Bloom doesn’t want to trade his best player to achieve his fiscal mandate but, unlike his former boss in Tampa Bay, Bloom isn’t in position to stand pat.To that end, the Dodgers can’t be alone in their zeal for Mookie Betts. That’s why we can’t discount the possibility that signing Nelson gives Friedman some leeway in his chats with Bloom. Does having Nelson allow Friedman to trade one of his other starting pitchers to Boston? Is David Price the left-handed starter the Dodgers were targeting to replace Hill and Ryu all along? Depending on how available Betts still is, I believe these are the more interesting questions today.-J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Bones sinking like stonesCheaters often prosper ― The Boston Red Sox reportedly used their video replay room to steal signs in 2018, in violation of MLB rules.In related news ― The Houston Astros players are likely to avoid punishment when MLB punishes the organization’s sign-stealing practices, according to ESPN.Bullpen help ― The Dodgers reportedly signed a four-year veteran to a minor-league contract.More than Bellinger ― Who are the Dodgers’ best draft picks of the 2010s?More than Lux ― Baseball America ranked the Dodgers’ Top 10 prospects.Tickets still remain ― Tommy Lasorda will be among the guests of honor at the annual PBSF dinner this Saturday in Beverly Hills.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *